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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
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 email@example.com or Council President – Skye Gordineer at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.