Many, perhaps most of us, thrive on the familiar. Perhaps it’s a routine: the morning cup of coffee; the weekly phone call from a relative. Perhaps it’s a place: that one restaurant in your favorite vacation city; the family gathering spot for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Perhaps it’s a ritual: the bedtime story to your son; the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday. Perhaps it’s a person: an old friend; a trusted confidant; the kind of person you develop a communicative shorthand with; the kind of person with whom you can laugh and cry with equal abandon.
Change is inevitable.
Coffee makes your ulcer flare up. That restaurant is now an Olive Garden. Your son would rather read his own books. Your friend moves to another city. We resist change, we fight it, we curse it. It makes us sad, it makes us angry. Nothing will ever be the same, and we hate it.
CGS is in the middle of change, as we have bid goodbye to Pastor Manda and begin the process of bringing a new Pastor into our community. In fact, we have been in a state of change for sixteen months as we discovered a new way of worshipping together, and are now taking the tentative steps back to “normalcy.” My other job is in a similar state of change, as faces and roles change within our very small staff in addition to negotiating the same (hopefully) post-pandemic paths. A big portion of my life each day is about change, and to be honest, it feels very uncertain, very unstable. I like resolution. I do not like waking up with more unanswered questions than I went to bed with.
There is a scripture on the wall of Joshua’s room:
This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
The reminder that things will always change – that millions of things change each and every day – but that God’s love for us remains constant, that God’s love is our rock, our anchor – this helps me turn from the sadness and the fear I have wrapped up in my change; and it helps me embrace the potential that change can provide. It also helps remind me that change is not permanent. Things may change in a way we don’t like – but they will change again – and most importantly, we can be an agent in that change.
Things may look very different for me in a month, or six months, or a year. But God will be there, as God always has been.
Change is good.
~ Daniel Thomas
My first Sunday back to church after being away for more than a year, felt a bit strange, like remembering a dream you had many times before. It was just a handful of people, Pastor, worship leaders, the musicians, really, just Daniel with Gregg and Michael doing all the singing.
We met that Saturday to go over the logistics with how things were going to work, preparing for the congregation’s return to the sanctuary for live and in person worship.
So many changes since the pandemic took hold, but CGS looks the same, we all look pretty much the same, but still, it feels different. Familiar yet new, and I guess that’s true in many ways. We RSVP to attend live, but that will now change by next week! For that first Sunday, was it mask on, mask off? We still line up for communion yet maintain our distance in one single line and we all exit in one direction. The cups in the trays still have wine and grape juice, yet they are spaced apart, so we made tweaks, some fine tuning on how to interact live, we are cautious and want to stay safe, but we are glad to be back.
There are other changes happening at CGS too, the transitioning of Jean and Susan off council, we elected new officers, Skye as our new president, Petra as vice president and Bob takes on the role of secretary. We welcome Gregg and Adam to council. We have a new large monitor in the sanctuary, that will come in handy, finally something clearer to read and sing by. We will continue to have our services broadcasted on YouTube, we will probably have many more Zoom meetings too ... we are a techie bunch and lucky to have all these options.
The architectural plans for the new bathrooms and kitchen were approved by council. These are all positive changes and we as a congregation have proven that we can adapt, change and be new.
That first Sunday back was also my first time doing altar guild, do I remember how this is done? Where's the what-cha-ma-call-it? Where's Lois ... oh yes Janet, is now overseeing this role! And we forgot to light all the altar candles, even though we filled them with oil and tested then on Saturday. Steve sent a personal chat asking why they weren't lit! Janet and I ... whoops, don't say anything!
And that’s the fun part of being in person ... there are hiccups, there are things that go awry, it doesn't always purr like a well-oiled engine. It has been a long time since we gathered, it felt, well different and yet the same, but also warm, nice, and fun too, a place full of friendly faces.
But our biggest news and change is Pastor Manda is taking on a new and exciting role as the assistant to the bishop of the Sierra Pacific synod. We will miss Pastor Manda; we love her and wish her great success! Praise be to God!
~ Jerry Clark, CGS Council
Starting in September, depending on the Santa Clara County and CDC guidelines, our choirs are planning on singing back in person in our Sunday services. We’ll hear once again beautiful harmonious renditions of some old-time favorites and new choral compositions to help us enjoy more our worship experience. On September 5, Sunday, our CGS Mixed Choir will sing live in worship after over a year of virtual singing, and our men’s choir, Keynote Vocal Group, will lend their voices to make our worship even more special on September 19.
Our CGS Mixed Choir is constantly looking for singers who would like to be part of a ministry and group of people who share the same passion for singing. This could be a wonderful opportunity for us to start fresh and be involved in our choral ministry, after months of not being able to sing due to the pandemic. We meet for a couple of hours every Thursday to learn music that we sing in our worships, and a quick review of the song before each Sunday service. Our rehearsals normally comprise of not just singing, but also a lot of fellowship - catching up and checking in with each other, most of the time, over food and refreshments. Choir members often bring food and refreshments to rehearsals that they’ve prepared to share with everyone. We’ve always felt that our church is a big family, and that is especially undeniable among our choir members. The amount of time we spend in each other’s company, doing something we enjoy and love, for a common objective of serving God and edifying our congregation with music, nurture a special connection and relationship with each other.
According to a study, human songs connect us, not just to each other, but to other species. But there are key differences in the way humans and other animals sing, and those differences point to the unusually important role that sound plays in human brain function. Music provides a way to access regions of the brain and reawaken autobiographical memory when language won’t. We believe that human vocal learning may have started as a way to mark ourselves as being members of a group, maybe before we had full-blown language. This group identification is somehow connected with the way accents tell us what region or country a speaker comes from today.
So, come join us on Thursdays, starting September2, 7 – 9 in the evening, and be part of our wonderful choral ministry. Contact me if you have questions, at email@example.com, or you can find my number listed in Breeze.
~ Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
The word "family" can stir up a variety of emotions in people. For some, family is synonymous with love or loyalty. For others, it can be the opposite. Family can sometimes be synonymous with words like misunderstood, suffocating, or even alone. It's impossible to know how the word family will make another feel because everyone has a different experience no matter how similar, there will always be differences. Even within siblings.
The one thing I believe everyone can relate to when they think or hear the word "family" is strong emotions. Whether they be positive, negative, or a combination of the two.
For me family is beautiful thing that I associate with the words love, loyalty, laughter, tears, and unbreakable. However, it is not rooted in blood or DNA. Outside of my parents, my grandmothers, and older brother, most of the people I consider close family members are not biologically related to me. This is not a sad or traumatic reality for me because it is rooted in distance and coexistence.
My entire biological family lives in Brazil. I have lived in the United States since I was one. The only people I saw regularly in my upbringing that are actually related to me were my mother's parents and my father's mother. But all my aunts and uncles, my first cousin, second cousins, and so forth I barely know. It is only in recent years that I've come to know them and be able to have more interactions with them due to being able to financially afford traveling to Brazil and technological advances that allow us to stay in communication despite distance. With a multitude of social media and communication applications I can now have a sense of coexistence with them.
With that being said, the people I still consider my closest family members are the adults and peers I grew up with and now their children. I refer to them as my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. And then there are some of my friends that I've either known for years that have become family or even those I've met with the past five years that have become family by choice and commitment.
I've been a part of the CGS community for four months now and when my friends or family ask me about CGS I tell them about how great the people are. How this community reminds me of a family. I know that word might be alienating to some due to their own experiences so please substitute that word for whatever word fits better. When I look at this community I see people whom have chosen to love and care for one another. It's truly a beautiful thing and I feel blessed to be a witness to it. It's what gives me courage in this time of transition that CGS is going to continue to thrive in the face of the unknown.
~ Aline Santos
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.