"Hope for the best, but expect the worst.”
I became aware of this phrase in junior high school and was immediately drawn to the duality of it. My awkward, insecure teenage self fought the voices that always told me how I would fail, or how the world would mock and taunt me; but the optimistic, hopeful side of me could envision joy, happiness, and success. This phrase became a mantra for me, and I would find it running through my head throughout adolescence and into adulthood as I faced challenges or opportunities - SATs, telling a crush how I felt, going in for a job interview, auditioning for a show.
As a slightly older adult, I began to feel that the phrase really parsed out a little differently: set your expectations low and they’ll almost always be exceeded. Hope is fine, hope is nice, but what you really need to do is assume things will be terrible so you won’t be as disappointed or depressed when that becomes the reality. Hope was slowly working its way out of the equation. It didn’t sound as pleasant, but I chalked it up to the wisdom and experience of adulthood.
No matter what the outcome, a week from now there will be both joy and despair throughout the country. Perhaps never has there been an election that felt so much like an existential event. And this year - when the country has seen a pandemic and the resultant personal and economic upheavals, the rising voices against social injustice and the backlash against those voices, and decisions and legislation that feels like threats against the ideals and people we worry are already marginalized and threatened - it can be easy to move away from hope and veer towards despair, towards fear.
So at this point I turn to the words of a wise sage: Yoda.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Now while this is a very cinematic quote, there is, I believe, a simple truth here. Focusing on despair, on fear - this is what causes people to to run to the storm cellar, bar the door, and prepare for the zombie apocalypse. And while it’s one thing to be prepared, to have a plan; if you spend your whole life waiting for the zombies to come, then everyone starts to look like a zombie. And, you’ve spent your whole life in your basement.
How can we all be hopeful on November 4? Can there be hope on the large scale, or should there be hope for the small things? Do we focus on the journey of a thousand miles, or on the few steps we have to take today?
Jeremiah 29:11 says “'for surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’”
And to me, the most important thing I can do with my hope is turn it into action. No matter who is in charge, my decisions and my actions are still my own. And I can use those decisions and actions to shine a light on the darkness, to raise those around me towards the light, to take my steps on the thousand-mile journey.
“We remember before our God your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 1:3
(don’t forget to vote!)=
The virtual Congregational Meeting will take place on Sunday, November 22 immediately after worship. Morning worship and this meeting will take place over Zoom, just as we did in May. If you have not used Zoom before, rest assured that Council members will be in contact with all voting members before November 22 to help you find a way to participate in the meeting. Details about how to join should be in your packet that was mailed, and will be distributed again as we get closer to the date.
This year we have three pieces of business to conduct at the Congregational Meeting. They are as follows:
The church’s Finance Ministry has been hard at work over these last several months drafting a budget that the Council feels will be a representation of our church living out its mission to proclaim, welcome, and serve over the next year. Following are links to the proposed budget, as well as current financial statements. We know there will be questions and discussions about the budget, so we will be holding a budget meeting on October 26th at 7pm.
But first, some words from our Treasurer:
Greetings! There are some things about our financial picture and our proposed budget that I would like to clarify. I know that some of this information is not interesting to all of us. However, I would like to provide you with some clarification of what you will see.
by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
It’s October, and our CGS leadership has started planning for Christmas in this pandemic. To be honest, I’m getting weary of talking about the pandemic. And I’m quite sure several of us share this feeling. Partly because of the frustration that this pandemic is still here due to the lack of action from our government and its leadership. And talking about it 7 months in is like poking a wound that won’t heal. It could be irritating or painful. But this is still our reality, and yes, now we have to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas in it. And we will have to expect that everything is going to be different, which will not be particularly easy for our fellowship-loving, tradition-honoring, hug-sharing CGS family. But sharing one of my favorite verses (in fact, it is the signature in my emails), Philippians 4:8 (NIV) says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This verse always reminds me to dwell on things that are positive, that no matter how bad the situation may be, look for the beauty and good in it. This definitely has helped me and continues to help me get through some of my down moments. Developing this kind of mindset teaches me to have hope, no matter what, and encourages me to always have faith. So, I’m also encouraging everyone to prepare to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year with this perspective and try to look for the beauty and good in this approaching pandemic Christmas. Our CGS leadership is trying really hard to make our celebration joyful and meaningful for everyone, despite our current situation. Part of this year’s plan is having as many CGS members sing with the virtual choir for the carols and hymns we will be singing for the Christmas Eve worship. These will be familiar Christmas songs that we’ve sung in the past years, like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. In the following weeks, I will be sending out an email with detailed information regarding this, and I highly encourage everyone to participate. I’m hoping that in our own, different way of sharing music, we can still continue to spread the spirit of the season to everyone. A pandemic Christmas may be different, but with hope and faith, it can still be joyful, meaningful, beautiful, and good, with everyone’s help.
Save the date!
Make sure to join us on November 22nd for our congregational meeting online, preceded by interactive worship on Zoom
We start worship at 10am on Zoom (won't be on YouTube that day), immediately followed by our congregational meeting. Packets with all the relevant materials will be mailed out this week, so look for them soon.
October 24th 1:00pm
Dress up in your Halloween costumes, pack into the car, and come to CGS for Trek or Treat!
Your family will get a scavenger map of all the outposts with candy and scavenger hunt items. When you're done, bring your completed map back to CGS for a finishing prize! Families/Quaranteams are separate and all outpost stops are COVID safe. Come enjoy this low-risk way of celebrating Halloween and brighten the day of CGS members who live close to the church.
Skye Gordineer, CGS Council Secretary
Sometime in March: Full stop on all in-person worship! “It’s okay, we’ll be back by Easter,” we told ourselves.
Mid April: No in-person worship until at least June 1st. “That’s plenty of time, can’t wait to see everyone,” we agreed.
Mid May: Online worship through July. “What’s two more months? We got this,” we said.
July: Continue what we are doing through September. “Yep. Okay. Sure,” we conceded.
Sigh. Well here we are in October and the council just voted to not meet in person until February. That will get us through the holiday season and hopefully into a new lower risk tier in Santa Clara. But it's sad to think that we will not have in-person worship for almost a year at that point.
Okay, we can’t meet for in-person worship… What CAN we do?
There are many ways that the CGS community can be together. There’s bible study every Wednesday. There is Zoom coffee hour after online worship. Don’t forget about Zoom Pub Theology on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The first ever Trek or Treat is coming up at the end of this month. Use Breeze to call up a CGS friend and chat. Organize a small CGS Zoom chat. Volunteer with the Safe Car Park that we are hosting this month. Join the Congregational meeting on November 22nd (We need your vote!). Do you have other ways you like to get together?
Finding different ways to be together is a challenge but also a chance for growth and to try new things. We will eventually be together again (February!?!?!?), in the meantime let’s get creative and reach out to one another.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.