I need a blessing.
Being home alone for such extended periods of time, not having physical contact with anyone for months on end, and having to work twice as hard through artificial means of communication to care for people have all left me in need of blessing. For the first time since I was a child, I see the benefit of a pet. I have heard what lifesavers your pets have been to you these past 6 months.
That’s how animals are. Our kinsfolk on this earth, they ask little to nothing of us except what is in every doctor’s oath: first, do no harm. And yet, we crowd them out of their habitats, we pollute their water and air, we hunt them for sport, and genetically modify them for our convenience and pleasure.
Our furry, scaly, and feathered neighbors give us more blessing than we deserve based on our treatment of them. They sustain us, they are messengers of God’s kingdom, even. This Sunday I want to offer a blessing for the animals in your life.
This Sunday I will be at the church from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, just sitting outside the front doors. I hope you will drive up and bring your animals with you. If you wear your mask and I wear my mask, I would be honored to bless the animal(s) that have blessing you.
This year, the pandemic changes are actually a blessing to our annual animal tradition. The CDC says that pets don’t transmit Covid, so it’s one of the safe activities we CAN do. There isn’t a long worship service to sit through while your animal is restless. There aren’t too many other animals or humans around to get them riled or edgy.
Having the opportunity to bless your animals (or stuffed animals) would be a blessing to me this week. I haven’t seen you for far too long and I long to give thanks to God for the creatures that have been your companions all these long months. I hope to see you on Sunday afternoon.
At CGS, our mission statement includes the intention to proclaim, worship and serve. In order to accomplish this, we need donations to fund our efforts. I am happy to say our commitment to our mission hasn’t been neglected, despite the challenges we are facing.
We budgeted general giving as of 8/31/20 at $166,680. To date, our actual donations for general giving are $207,537, an increase over budget of $40,857. In addition, our budgeted expenses for the year as of 8/31/20 are $252,684. As of 8/31/20, our actual expenses for the year are $241,837. Our expenses are under budget by $10,847.
Our continued commitment to fund our worship and service to our community is making it possible to adjust our operations to this new normal and plan for worshipping together when we are able.
If you would like to see more detail on the actual financial statements, you can find them on the following links:
Profit & Loss Actual vs Budget YTD 08/31/2020
Profit & Loss comparison to prior year YTD 08/31/2020
My theatre had our weekly staff meeting over Zoom the other day, and everyone was grumpy. No one even had to say it - as their windows popped up on the screen, you could see it in their countenances, then you could hear it in their voices. Even before the meeting officially started, the conversation was subdued, reserved - and this is a bunch of theatre people.
Within a couple of minutes of the actual meeting, there was actual confrontation - people accusing others of throwing attitude, questioning and battling things that should have been simple conversations. Maybe it was Zoom fatigue, maybe it was the existential crisis that hangs over the arts nowadays, maybe it was the existential crisis that hangs over our country nowadays.
I was worried, not just because I normally try to set an upbeat and open atmosphere during our meetings, but also because I had to inform the staff of a procedural decision that was made - a decision to ensure we were in compliance with best practices regarding the security and availability of our data, but a decision that would also cause no little consternation, and a perceived increase in difficulty of some day-to-day tasks.
I told them what was going to happen, and I listened to their concerns, and I tried to address them, and I heard more grumbling, and what I said next was something along the lines of “Listen. This is a thing, and you’re going to have to deal with it.” There was silence (again, rare for theatre people), and we ungracefully moved on to the next topic. But I could tell that some people felt unheard, and felt unsupported, and I felt like I had failed in the management of my staff, and of the moment.
When the world seems to bring wave after wave of conflict and disaster and hopelessness, how can we be a messenger of peace and love and hopefulness? When people turn to us for support, how can we support them, even when we don’t always agree? When we’re asked to lead, can we do so with grace and compassion, even when the decisions are hard and unpopular?
David was not a perfect person, but in Psalm 78 it is said “with upright heart he tended them, and guided them with skillful hand.” As a king, David tried to lead with integrity from a strong spiritual center. This doesn’t mean every decision will be embraced, nor will every action be immediately understood. But it does mean that a leader does their best to lead by example.
Today I will apologize to my staff, and even if the outcome does not change, I will listen with compassion and grace. I wish the same capacity for compassion and grace in all those who are called to lead.
Recently, on September 1st, our parsonage tenants Brandon & David checked out of the house with property committee chair Joe Shackelford & Pastor Manda. Brandon was an intern pastor at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill for the past year. In a collaboration with Advent, CGS helped to provide affordable housing for Brandon in his preparation for ordained ministry in the ELCA. Over the weekend, Brandon was ordained and installed in a call to the Swedish Lutheran Church of San Francisco. We give thanks to God that we were called to use the abundance of our resources to raise up new leaders in ministry!
by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
Hymns have a way of bringing people together. We feel somehow connected every time we sing a hymn as a congregation. Our voices become one and we take part in becoming one body. And being a choir director, I especially love it when some voices break out into singing harmonies. It’s like the whole congregation gets transformed into one big choir. It just makes the experience a little bit more special for me.
When we speak of hymns, the usual things that come to our minds are the famous traditional ones we often sing in church: Amazing Grace, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, How Great Thou Art, Blessed Assurance. Derived from the Greek word “hymnos,” a hymn, by definition, is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to God, a prominent figure or personification. With this definition, even the contemporary praise and worship songs fall under the category of hymns. And being a member of the Praise Team in my former churches, I’ve had my share of singing and falling in love with the newer hymns: Shout to the Lord, The Power of Your Love, Open the Eyes of My Heart.
But I have to say, the hymn that sits right at the top of my favorites is the more traditional “Be Thou My Vision.” Based on an old Middle Irish poem, it is sung to the melody noted as “Slane,” an Irish folk tune. Although the lyrics are very meaningful and poetic, the real draw to me is its melody in its ¾ time. The rhythm almost creates a sway that reminds me of a lullaby that brings a feeling of security and comfort. It starts low and comfortable, slowly building to the higher range, peaking to the highest with the running notes, then bringing you back down, and ending it repeating the same last note three times, giving emphasis to the words – Thy presence my light; and I with Thee one; my treasure thou art; O Ruler of all. Oftentimes, I find myself humming its simple and memorable melody, and it almost always transports and connects me back to our church singing together. It gives me a bit of security and comfort going through our current situation. Not knowing for sure how long we’ll continue to do virtual worships, I hope that singing our favorite hymns will help us feel more connected. Just keep singing.
Starting October 1, we will be hosting the Safe Car Park again at CGS - that’s only a month away! We are once again looking for volunteers once again for check-in/check-out and to bring meals. We had a really great experience hosting in June, but have made a few changes both in how we are going to do volunteer sign-ups, and some of the check-in/check-out procedures.
We will send out invitations later this week through Breeze to sign up. If you do not receive an invitation, but are interested in helping out, please email Rachel (email@example.com). The invitations will include more detailed instructions for volunteers on check-in/check out and providing meals.
Check-in/check-out: In June, we allowed the guests to stay at CGS all day, but in October, we will be asking them to go elsewhere during the day (this is what we had planned to do pre-COVID, but made an exception in June as we figured things out). That means we will need volunteers to check people out when they leave in the morning, and check people in when they leave in the evening.
Meals: In October, we will only be providing meals (breakfast and dinner) three days a week: Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Many of the guests leave on weekends and we found towards the end of the month in June that not all of the meals were being eaten. We will also ask guests at the beginning of the month to “opt in” for meals, since some of them did not eat any meals last month. This will help us provide the right number and have less wasted food.
Donations: We would also gladly accept donations of the following items, which you can bring to the church any time in September and leave in the bins in the Narthex:
- Wet wipes
- toothbrushes (no toothpaste)
- full size shampoo & conditioner
- individually packaged drinks that are not water
We are really looking forward to hosting again in October with all of you! Please reach out if you have questions to any of us on the Safe Car Park Team:
Kevin Visscher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rachel Visscher (email@example.com)
Sarah Janigian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chelsea Byom (email@example.com)
Pastor Manda (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I don't know about you, but the monotony of Coronalife is getting to me. I had to laugh out loud when I saw this from The Onion the other day (a reprint of something from last year), because it totally sums up how I feel sometimes. There's lots to do, but little motivation at the moment.
I heard someone on NPR refer to this feeling as the Coronacoaster. One day you are happily baking banana bread, and the next day you're drinking Vodka for breakfast. I don't know from one day to the next where I'm going to be on the Coronacoaster!
Church is one of the bright spots in my weekly routine at the moment. I find I need that connection to you all more than ever. Even though I may not "see" you on Sunday, just knowing that everyone is there at worship with me, and being able to type out my greetings and sharing the peace have been meaningful. My involvement on the council and events like God's Work Our Hands are the life-giving water that I need to make it from one week to the next.
The council has been busy, and here are some of the things that are keeping us so:
I pray that you will remain in "happily baking banana bread" mode until we meet again!
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.