By Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
The season of Boos and Trick or Treats have passed, and before we know it, the Thanks and Gobble Gobbles will be gone, and then it’s time for Ho Ho Hos and Hallelujahs.
In the past few years here at CGS, it has been part of our Christmas celebration to help spread the spirit of the season with a concert. Traditionally, the event, while showcasing the rich and diverse talents with which our church has been blessed, also helps raise funds for a church ministry or an organization that we believe carries or in line with our church’s mission. It is, additionally, an opportunity for us to invite people in our surrounding community to our church, and share the good news of our Savior’s birth in a setting that’s different from our usual worship service.
I’m specially excited about this year’s concert. Not only we will hear performances from our own Keynote Vocal Group, CGS Mixed Choir, CGS Band, duet and solo singers, but also from the Monte Vista High School Choir, Variations. You will hear favorites like Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Silver Bells, and O Come All Ye Faithful, and some new melodies that, I’m sure, will soon be added to your “good” list.
This year’s concert will be held on December 7, Saturday, 7:00 PM, in our church sanctuary. There are no tickets to purchase to see the show, but free-will donations will be collected to benefit the Mt. Cross Ministries. I hope that you’ll come, and bring friends and family, to our event for a worthy cause, while celebrating the joy of the season with music!
One of the joys of my vocation is that I get to walk with each of you through your own faith. While there are many similarities between each of the people who worship and serve at CGS, you each have your own baggage, gifts, and (best of all) quirks. It really is my pleasure to hear your pains and fears and share your joys. Most of all though, I love discovering and questioning with you.
I wish that I had the infinite bandwidth to sit with each of you on a regular basis and dive into scripture, or untangle holy mysteries. I long for more time to listen to your thoughts and untangle your ideas about God. But alas, I too am human and not all is possible. This is why I struggle to know what I can do when a season like Advent approaches.
In my ideal world, I would take time to walk with each of you through this holy season while you sit in the pregnant pause before Christmas and wonder what it means for God to be in your life. Since that's not possible, this year I'm going to try the next best thing. I want to set you up with the resources and tools that I and others have found helpful.
Attempting to practice a regular spiritual discipline in a liturgical season is a gift that keeps on giving. In my own spiritual life I have balked at the idea that prayer, or reading, or focused practice could have a meaningful effect on my day to day life. When I was challenged to try anyway, it turns out that I was (yet again) wrong. Daily practice of my faith has shaped my mood and my life over time.
I want to share the same challenge with you that was once given to me. I want to encourage you to attempt a regular practice for the season of Advent. Or Christmas. Or both. Since I can't do this with each of you personally, I hope that you'll let me make some suggestions.
Please click here to tell me what kind of resource would be helpful to you. I will sift through my many resources and get back to you with a couple suggestions. Then, you can attempt them, or save them for another year when your heart is ready. Either way, Jesus is coming to be in your life. Blessed Advent preparation whatever form it might take!
GIVING AT CGS
For many years I was known as being cheap. Just ask John Haselden. I still am a bit, but not as much. I have always tried not to be that way with my Church Community. My parents always gave their 10% to the Catholic Church where my family attended. There were many special projects at the church that needed extra funding beyond the 10% as well. My parents gave till it hurt sometimes (their words not mine). As a child I did not have a good concept of money except for what I made cutting neighborhood’s lawns and delivering the local newspaper.
When I was a young teen my mother died and after that my dad had large amount of medical bills that needed paid, he also made sure the church got their share of his salary. At that time my Dad told me if I wanted to continue at my Catholic High School where I was a freshman, I would need to get a part time job to pay for my tuition. I still don’t know if it was because of money being tight or dad didn’t want me goofing around after class unsupervised because mom wasn’t around. I learned a lot about the value of money during that time.
In my 20s and most of my 30s I didn’t go to church with any regularity. When I did maybe a couple of bucks was given as an offering. John and I started to go to the Metropolitan Community Church, (MCC). I loved the church and eventually was giving my 10% and then some. They, like CGS were living on a couple large gift funds that people had left to the church. Of course, people gave but not nearly the amount needed. We lasted that way for about 8 years until we had to shut the doors it was a very sad day and I pray I will never have to repeat.
Here at CGS I fear we could be going in the same direction as MCC. We are different because there are a number of households at CGS that have the financial ability to give enough money to sustain the mission and the ministry of our church. We each just have to make the decision to give; to sustain with our dollars what we say we want in our church.
For example, I love that we want to remodel the men’s bathroom and make the kitchen more usable. However, I believe we should not begin a large project until we have the dollars to do so. In my opinion we have become too complacent with the funds we have. If we continue the way we are going, we could end up like MCC.
Please try giving more. You can try the 10%, if it hurts too much at first, start with a smaller percentage and maybe gradually work yourself up to 10%, or as my mom and dad would say “until it hurts.”
Or if you are already giving as much personal income as you can, maybe you can help us figure out ways to generate revenue with our valuable property. We have inherited a wonderful gift of property and facilities from God and our founders for generations to come, it can’t stop with us. With this wondrous gift comes daunting responsibility. I know I am very willing to help where I can, are you? To continue our mission, CGS needs each of us to contribute. With your and God’s help we will.
In God’s blessings
Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as the conducting, supervising or managing of something. The careful and responsible management of something entrusted in one’s care.
But what does stewardship mean in the Bible?
In the macro, it’s the same, but in managing all the resources bestowed upon us by God. And it is our responsibility as God's collaborators, to maintain and manage this gift. You can think of this as something we do at CGS through our ministries.
So how does our mission and vision relate to us being good stewards?
You know that our mission and ministries at CGS can only happen because of our spiritual will and financial gifts. These generous offerings are the resources that propel our mission. And yes, it is real money and time that help to provide our spiritual things!
As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t it only be an "option" to give a financial gift?
Well ... the practice of generosity is a faith discipline. And, growing in generosity deepens our connection to Christ.
Proverbs 18:16 "A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great."
When we give, it is all about the community in which God created us to be active participants. As a community we lift each other up, and God knows we need each other. Giving, reminds us of God's great generosity and love for one and other.
Our financial contributions make a difference in the lives of so many people. As individuals that make up the CGS family, we seek spiritual growth and fulfillment, but also to make a difference in the world around us.
My own giving story happened in August, when Chapel of The Flowers contacted me to help settle the burial fees for a friend lost to cancer. I’d not been in much contact for the last few years, so it was a shock to me about her passing. The last time we had contact was a couple years prior when she needed financial assistance with her son’s funeral.
As sad as this situation was, and unplanned expenses for myself, I was glad and blessed in many ways to help. It was the right thing to do, and a freeing experience for me. I know both Judy and her son Lenny are now in a better place.
Giving can be a sacrifice for many in the congregation living on tight budgets, it takes us out of our comfort zone, it’s not easy, financially or giving of ourselves in other ways. Your time and energy can be a wonderful and rewarding way of tithing, supporting any of the CGS ministries. So maybe skip that latte, or movie night and put that bit of money or time into serving God.
We are all included in God's abundance. We are co-creators and stewards of that abundance. We are transforming lives, so let's share the good news of Jesus through our giving and proclaiming the abundance of God.
I pledge an extra $100.00 towards our 2020 budget goals and invite you to do the same if you are able.
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
One of the core strengths of most performing artists is a knack for near-shameless self-promotion. Thus, my social media feed is clogged with mostly actors, but also directors, musicians, and designers posting – not just when they have a show opening or running, but about the first rehearsal (“first day of school,” they call it), the announcement that they got hired for a project, or even when they simply audition for something (regardless if they get the gig or not). And like any good Insta-Twitter-Booker, the hashtags are copious: #actorslife #workingactor #blessed etc., etc., etc. As a producer and sometimes artist, I participate in these posts myself, albeit not without some reluctance.
Recently, someone posted a picture of a cast for an upcoming local production of a musical, taking a break at rehearsal. It was less promotion, more casual – just a group of people relaxing, bonding. And it was this photo, surrounded by carefully curated posts of “come see meeeeee in my shooooowww,” that created a small firestorm of controversy in the theatre community: in 2019, in the Bay Area, the entire cast was Caucasian.
More and more, theatre producers have been struggling with this topic, and in many ways, it is a reflection of a national conversation: as the population continues to diversify, how do you ensure that diversity is reflected in both your artists and your audiences? There’s a lot to unpack there: until the last 20 years or so, musical theatre had been mainly created by white men of privilege for an audience that largely reflected their worldview; thus, much of the work now considered “iconic” or “classic” didn’t speak to more diverse artists or audiences, and a vicious circle ensured that is only now truly beginning to be broken.
One of the show’s producers echoed a sentiment that I’ve heard before: they cast based on who shows up to audition – if only white people show up and/or are the best people for the roles, what are they supposed to do? (To be fair, this company has a solid record on diversity apart from this particular production.) It was a defensive stance that was not met kindly. Ultimately, the thread settled into a respectful and thoughtful discussion about what can be done moving forward. How can producers and directors be agents of change – to reach out, to embrace, to be active partners in making art accessible – and relevant – to all, rather than just opening the doors and hoping people come in? How can we do better?
I write all of this not to kvetch about my job, but I find it to be a useful parallel for the church today. As many in our congregation read the book “Dear Church,” the conversation is had about diversity and inclusiveness, and the struggle for equality and social justice in the ELCA and beyond. The call in that book is to not just open the doors, but for those of us inside those doors to walk outside into the world and be an active participant in God’s covenant – it is not enough for us to proclaim, welcome, and serve the same 100 people each Sunday. The modern church, much like musical theatre, is largely a construct of white men of privilege. Many millions of people, inside and outside of the church, have been both actively and passively marginalized by that construct. And while CGS can point to many successes in breaking that cycle, there is still a long way to go before all God’s children can truly feel like they are, in fact, all God’s children. How can we do better?
My name is Jean Herriges and I have the honor this year of serving as Secretary on the CGS Council. One of my main responsibilities is to take notes at the Council meeting and make sure they are accurate. As you probably know, the Council and the congregation have spent a lot of time this year talking about CGS’s governing documents. This includes the constitution, by-laws, and continuing resolutions. I’ve learned so much about how our church works this year as we’ve focused on these important documents – and keeping the meeting minutes accurate has been tough!
One of the areas we focused on for the constitution was to propose a change to when the new Council members start their term. Our proposal is for the Council term to start in the spring, rather than in January. January has always been a bit challenging, as we focus so much of our attention, both in church and out, on the season of Advent, that it can be an overwhelming experience for new Council members to get oriented to their roles on Council. I also LOVE the idea that we will be “rebirthing” Council after the season of Easter. Stay tuned to this item, as we will be voting to ratify this and the other proposed changes at our November congregational meeting.
After the special congregational meeting held in September, Council received feedback from several members about items we voted on and discussed. There were questions, recommendations, suggestions, and even complaints. The Council discussed each of these and continues to communicate with members about their concerns. I’m continually impressed by how much care and concern our members show toward making sure that CGS is a well-run organization. We are lucky to be in this together, and to have each other help guide us as we live out our mission to proclaim, welcome, and serve.
Tithing is a journey, at least it was for me. I didn't start out tithing ten percent of my income, but through the experiences of witnessing family members giving Sunday offerings since I was a young child, I knew it was an integral part of being a follower of Christ to fulfill God's work on earth. As stated in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:15 “And he said to them, Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
As long as I've attended church, I have always given a portion of my salary, but, let's be clear, it wasn't always easy. As we travel along our life's path there are both easy and hard times. In fact, there was a lengthy period of my adult life that I did not attend church at all. It was shortly before I married and subsequently divorced four years later. I now realize that I was like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.
My Catholic guilt and my need to hear God's word lead me back to his fold of believers. When I bought my little house in Willow Glen approximately thirty years ago, I made a promise to God to start attending church once more.
I began worshipping at Resurrection Lutheran on Leigh Avenue and I gave a portion of my income to the church.
But how much should I give? At first, I gave about $200 a month, not ten percent. Eventually, I transferred my membership to Immanuel Lutheran Church further down Leigh and gave about $300 each month, still not truly tithing. I was struggling, not giving with my whole heart. I even complained to a Mormon friend (I knew they were supposed to tithe also) that I would have plenty of money if I didn't give $300 of my money to the church every month. Time passed, I continued to give, but was I giving first fruits or sloppy seconds?
As I grew in my faith I became further involved with my church giving in other ways as well as monetary means; serving on Altar Guild, Usher Team, Coffee Team, Sunday School helper, etc. (sound familiar?) and participating with my church on events that helped our local community. It was then that giving an offering became easier and more from my heart. I was happy to give to support God's work. I increased my monthly donation again, (still not quite ten percent though).
Approximately ten years ago, I transferred my membership to CGS and quickly became involved in church life here. However, it wasn't until Laurie Gaumer spoke at one of our recent congregational meetings about how she tithed ten percent of her gross income, that I searched my heart once again. Should I, could I... give more? I prayerfully considered how God has abundantly dealt with me and recently increased my offering to a true tithe.
Where are you on your personal journey? Have you prayerfully thought about God's abundance in your life? Are you giving sloppy seconds or first fruits? Food for thought.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. My father was a professional musician, and my mother and three older siblings all sang. I thought everyone sat around the piano in the evenings and sang together in harmony. The first time I sang in public, I was 7 and I sang with my sisters in three-part harmony at the Musician’s Union picnic in Cleveland. The audience didn’t pay much attention, but I was smitten with the thrill of singing in harmony about thoughts and emotions that I didn’t have the words to express. I felt my soul soaring with the song and for the next 50 years I felt that same thrill as we sang at weddings, funerals, service organizations, parties and dance recitals (our dance teacher took one look at our dancing and said you three can sing).
Music, especially singing, is the vehicle to experience and enhance every human emotion and situation you encounter as you go through your life. It provides a theme song for every joy, sorrow, challenge and success you could ever have.
I recently discovered a song by Lauren Daigle called “You Say”. Every morning I ask Alexa to play this prayer and meditation that reminds me that I am loved and supported by God who knows me better than I know myself. The words are “You say I am loved when I don’t feel a thing. You say I am strong when I think I am weak. I believe, I believe what you say of me.” I sing along with the words and begin and end my day with this declaration of faith and gratitude for the joy of creation and the many wonderful people I have to share it with.
You don’t have to be a good singer to experience the uplifting joy and comfort that music provides. You just have to be willing to throw yourself into the experience.
Hi CGS! My name is Skye Gordineer and I’m just finishing up my first year on the Church Council. You can usually find me wrangling anywhere from one to three kids in the back of the church on Sunday. We sit there because of the amazing kids area that CGS has set up in the past few years. There are toys (quiet ones), books, art supplies and more that make it so much easier for me to bring the kids to church every Sunday.
This space is one of many areas funded by the church budget that the Council is currently working on for next year. Spaces like the kids area in the sanctuary, the nursery, as well as The Godly Play classroom need continued resources to provide the support families need to make it easier to attend church on a regular basis.
Please consider making continued or additional contributions to the offering plate this year. Did you know that you there are many different ways to donate to CGS? There’s the obvious envelopes in the pews (for checks or cash), but there’s also ways to give online to CGS via Breeze, Amazon, PayPal, Facebook, and EBay. Ask a council member for more info, or click here. Thank you for continuing to make CGS a welcome place for everyone!
I think that animals are amazing because they are like us...but perfect, without flaws. They forgive you and don't get angry at you because you left them alone or stepped on their tail. They are also so lovable. Dogs are amazing and you can't really change my mind.
In my opinion, I think dogs are the best animal created because a dog is the only pet I have. Golden are the best kind ever. They are just so great and cute, and I love them so much. They love me, and I love them. And so do lots of other people.
But there are some things that are challenging, like being shy. It's hare to communicate and play with a shy dog. I think that some pets are just scared of everything. And sadly, most times it's because they got treated unfairly or badly.
In my opinion I think God made animals because sometimes people can be mean, and we're not all perfect, and sometimes you need a friend. I fell like dogs love me and are always happy to see me. And that's how God feels. She is always happy to see us, and she loves us.
-a testimony from Tim, shared with the people of CGS on Animal Blessing Sunday 2019
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.