Saturday, February 13, 2021
Join the Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 883 3807 5729
The first part of this gathering is a listening session with the LEAD consulting group. Here is a video about what they're looking for. https://youtu.be/Ro5nyN_4JAs Through their work, our synod leadership is hoping to learn how the future of our synod ministry has been affected by the past year’s pandemic.
The second part of the meeting is an election of people who we will send to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Ohio in the summer of 2022. We will nominate people in 3 categories: male layperson, layperson whose primary language is not English, and youth/young adult person.
The Churcwide Assembly is a twi-annual event where the standards and governance of our denomination are decided upon. Millions of Lutherans from around the United States and guests from Lutheran denominations around the world, gather for a week of learning and voting. If nominated to attend as a voting member of our synod, your trip is paid for in full. This is a pretty cool, unique, church experience.
If you or anyone you can think of at CGS would be interested, please contact Bob Blough or Jean Herriges as soon as possible. Or, call the church office.
The last part of the El Camino Real Conference Gathering is a sharing of what is happening in each of the congregations or ministries in our area. Come hear what your siblings in Christ are about these days.
Christmas Eve this year was one of the calmest I've ever experienced. I remember actually having time and heart-energy to wonder what Christ was bringing into the new year. I thought about moving into the parsonage, the inauguration of a new US president, the development of a couple COVID vaccines, the departure of Laura from my daily routine, and a lived experience of 2020 that renewed my conviction that the kingdom of God is just around the next corner.
I was excited on December 24th. Then, the next month did not pan out as I had envisioned. Technically, all those things still happened. It's only that they didn't happen in the same way I imagined it. The move was not as smooth as I had anticipated. Neither was the transition of the presidency. I'm still convinced that the Kingdom of God is just around the next corner, but Laura's departure seems to have dropped a pile of papers, a copier, and 45 3-ring binders between me and that kingdom.
Telling you about it all now reminds me of the story of the Transfiguration that we're going to read in worship this month. That too is a story about a bunch of Jesus followers who saw a new beginning and then had their expectations confounded. They thought that they were following a great healer and teacher. Up on that mountain, at the pinnacle of their new beginning, Jesus' face became the other in front of them. "Became other" Another way of saying that he became something they didn't recognize. Something that was different from what they knew, or identified with.
I can think of a few times when the view (or person, or idea) in front of me became something I didn't recognize. The words I would use to describe that are: unsettling, scary, exhausting. It's not easy to live through constant change. So how do we survive? How can we thrive? For the past couple weeks I've been taking solace and guidance from the disciples in our stories. They have all shown me the spiritual gift of willingness.
On the boat, Simon (Peter) was willing to try Jesus' way instead of insisting on his own experience and expertise. At his home, Simon's mother-in-law was willing to let a strange healer try his hand. Neighbors were willing to listen to a new teacher who was ill-credentialed. In all of these cases, the people let go of needing to understand, or control, and embraced curiosity. Their willingness was the key that opened a door otherwise closed to them. Through that door was the kingdom of God.
God of transformation, unclench our muscles and open our hearts to the strange future that we do not recognize. Help us to trust that even in the things we do not recognize, you can bring us what we need.
In June of 2020 we the council sat down to do our visioning for the year to come. We listened for God’s word in our midst and discerned the gifts and challenges of our community. We remembered our mission to Proclaim God’s word, Welcome all people, and Serve one another and the world. Then we set goals for 2021. These goals would then inform the work of our Finance Team, committee leaders, and staff people when they made their budget projections for 2021.
Goal 1: To increase our technological capacity to meet the needs of our congregation.
This means making live streaming a priority for worship in the pandemic adjustments and after we return to in-person worship. We’ve already upgraded and tested our new equipment as well as prioritized our staff to use it. This project continues to evolve in the next year. We also still intend to identify the ability and needs of our community for other ministries in our congregation.
Goal 2: Become an anti-racist congregation
Our council heard the call to develop a specific plan to become an anti-racist congregation. This means reaching out to communities of color as we did to communities of LGBT people in our history. It means educating ourselves and changing our practices to explicitly welcome and proclaim God’s favor for people of color. Our work has begun well and we still have so much more ahead of us.
Goal 3: Improve the property to make it reliably useful
Our needs have changed with the pandemic. So we know that we need to make changes to our spaces in order to prepare them for public gatherings in new ways. In the meantime, we have the opportunity to make the bathrooms and kitchen hospitable (as has been our plan for years) while we’re not using them. One of our goals in this vein was to move the pastor into the parsonage and we’ve already accomplished that!
Goal 4: Do service to/for/with our community
This goal is our commitment to continue to serve one another and the world even as our world is changed. We are committed to supporting our shelter cooks, hosting the safe car park, doing something for God’s Work our Hands, and lifting up whatever service God might put on your heart this year.
At the beginning of our 2021 fiscal year, we are grateful for the progress already made on these goals. Still, there is much road ahead of us and it is clear that God is calling us not to sit down and be done, but to keep walking. So we wonder now, and want to hear from you – how is it that you want to be involved in the ministry and mission of CGS this year?
I first heard this poem as a song. Although initially I was captivated by the beautiful melody and setting by the music composer, Jandi Arboleda, it is the lyrics and its message that made me connect to it in a deeper level. And every time Christmas season comes, I often find myself humming its melody or singing out its words. It goes:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
This poem was written by Howard Thurman, an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and more notably, a civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, Thurman played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations, and was a key mentor to leaders within the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr. Learning this about the author almost makes me think that the poem’s meaning and message are deeper and implicit. However, I believe that its words and commands are actually quite simple and straightforward. It conveys in an eloquent way what we need to do, especially as followers of Christ, when the Christmas season comes to an end. Find the lost - share the good news of Christ’s birth and salvation. Heal the broken - aid the sick, the elderly, and the vulnerable, especially in this time of pandemic. Feed the hungry - provide sustenance to people who are in need, like the homeless in our community, or donate to Second Harvest and Rise Against Hunger. To release the prisoner - help and support friends, family, or people in our community to break free from any form of addiction or abusive relationships. To rebuild nations, to bring peace among brothers - especially relevant in these times, get involved and support our government towards the path of healing and reconciliation from division due marginalization because of race, sexual orientation, religion, or political beliefs. And my favorite, To make music in the heart - to do all these work with a song and joy in our hearts. I love that the author closes the poem with this line, that after all the preceding “outward” commands, he reminds us at the end not to forget to take care of the “inward” - ourselves. With the new year ahead, and as the work of Christmas begins, I pray that the music-making in our hearts also continues and help us face our tasks with cheerful attitude.
- REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
Matthew writes that when the magi saw the shining star stop overhead, they were filled with joy. “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother” (Matt. 2:10-11). When you think about the people who have walked into your home this year, was it anything like the magi’s visit to Mary’s home? Our homes have become something entirely different to us. They’re not just our hideaway, they’re now the place where we work, eat, sleep, exercise, play, and get trapped. Now we have all this new data to ask ourselves if Christ is present in our home.
Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6) every year offers us the occasion for blessing our homes. An eastern European tradition of the Church is to inscribe a visual blessing on the main door with white chalk. A family would hold a short service of prayer to ask God’s blessing on their dwellings and on all who live, work with, and visit them. For example, they would inscribe 20+CMB+21. The numbers change with each new year. The three letters stand for either the ancient Latin blessing Christe mansionem benedicat, which means “Christ, bless this house,” or the legendary names of the magi (Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthasar). In this way, they would invite Jesus to be a “guest” in their home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by. Deuteronomy 6:9 says that we shall “write [the words of God] on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, … and you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”
Our homes have become our base for all things. They are the place where we sleep, eat, work, and play. Now, visitors crossing our threshold have taken on new meaning for us. Chalking the door or the doorstep of our houses invites Christ to be a part of all these activities and the whole community that surrounds our homes. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits no matter where or how we might live in the year to come.
I invite you to join me for a Blessing of Our Homes tonight at 7:30 pm. You can join us here on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89071751168. Bring a piece of chalk, pencil, post-it notes, paper, or whatever you might want to use to mark our blessing on your house.
Fifty and Better (FAB) Winter Session & January Lectures
FAB’s 6-week Winter Session begins on Jan. 19, and registration is now open! Courses include: History of Women Artists, America and the Cold War, American Life Through Broadway Musicals, Pioneer Women of the Movies, and more! We hope you will join us for these captivating courses. Individuals 50+ are welcome, please share with your friends and family! FAB will also be hosting lectures in early January. Join us as JPL’s Luis Velasco talks about the Perseverance Rover and the challenges leading up to the February landing, and Eleanor Schrader takes us on a journey out West through Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Lectures are open to all. For more information visit: https://www.callutheran.edu/centers/lifelong-learning/fifty-better/
Encompass Ministries continues their work with the houseless this season. They are always taking donations. You can drop any items into the blue bins just outside the office door inside the building.
They are looking for:
empty 8oz water bottles
yarn for hats
empty 8oz water bottles
empty 8oz water bottles
paper bags (for Martha's)
and did I mention - empty 8oz water bottles
And you can always donate through our website; www.encompassministry.org.
It is apparent that we will have a different Christmas this year. The pandemic affects all of us in one way or another, some more than the others. While some of us are inconvenienced by wearing a mask while out in public, or waiting in line to get into a store, or not being able to dine in our favorite restaurants, I also know of friends who are going through the pain of losing a friend or a loved one because of COVID. With the implementation of another lockdown, plans are changing, and a few Christmas traditions will have to wait till next year to happen. In CGS, we will not have our yearly Christmas concert that the choirs put together to help raise funds for our ministries, or get together in person to sing carols and hymns, and share food or treats. Mike and I will not be traveling to Montana this time to spend Christmas with family. So, for now, we’re holding on to the fond and joyful memories of past Christmases, and I’ve got plenty to get me through. Some of my happiest Christmas memories go back to when I was a teenager in the Philippines. I remember going house to house with my choir, singing carols, receiving gifts, and at the end of the evening, sharing lots of laughter over simple food. We would also go to amusement parks that were only open around the season, and enjoy the rides and whatever tasty munchies that we could get our hands on. In our home, Christmas Eve dinner, which is traditionally called “Noche Buena”, was always special. Mom would prepare foods that were only served during special occasions, like roasted chicken, ham, “arroz valenciana” (savory sticky rice with meat and vegetables), and Filipino-style spaghetti (don’t laugh, but it’s sweet, with cut-up hotdogs, ground meat, and the usual tomato sauce, with maybe a little bit of banana catsup). Coming to the US, I’ve made new fond memories with different people in different events and places, like singing with dear friends in the Christmas concerts of the Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, and engaging in some traditions we have at CGS, like sprucing up our church at the beginning of the season and putting together our own Christmas concert and pageant. And this year, what I will miss the most is spending time with friends in our homes, singing together, and sharing food and laughter.
However, pandemic or not, as different as it will be, Christmas is coming, and its message stays the same – the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that gives us hope.
A safe and merry Christmas to all!
-Rey Lambatin, CGS Choir Director
Christmas is my favorite time of year… I spend extra time thinking of special things to do with and for my friends and family. I decorate my home with sparkly ornaments, stockings, snuggly quilts, and my nativity scene. I bake like a crazy person and share my creations with people in my circle and I sing Christmas pretty much non-stop. So, this year, 2020 things are different for so many reasons. Not only are we dealing with a global pandemic and all of the things that are involved with that, I am also going through treatment for Breast Cancer. Yes, 2020 has been a gut punch for so many reasons.
But, as my family of four sat around our Thanksgiving table last week, we talked about the things are we are thankful for, and even in the midst of all the crap that we are dealing with we each were able to think of things that we can give thanks for. My boys are thankful that even though they can’t hang out with their friends in person, we have technology that they can use to connect with the people that they miss. My husband and I are thankful for the access to the healthcare team that was able to get my treatment moving within a week and a half of my diagnosis. Also, I am thankful that at the 8-week mark of my treatment, (I am currently at week 19) an MRI showed that the chemotherapy that I had been having, shrunk the tumor from 1.5 cm to .5cm. Hopefully, the additional 12 weeks of chemo will shrink the tumor completely and there will be virtually nothing to remove at my lumpectomy in January. I am also thankful for the number of people who have supported me and my family through this cancer journey. You all, my CGS family have reached out so many times with words of love, prayers, and support over and over again. I feel like even though I have been going through a dark time, I have seen the face of God through so many of you.
So, even though this year’s Christmas will be different, I am determined to soak up all the good things about the season that I enjoy. I can still connect with the people I love, I can sing my heart out to all the Christmas music that makes my heart happy, and I can put out my decorations to make my home extra festive, although I admit that I am scaling things back this year. Even though I miss seeing you at church each week, I still feel connected to our church community and I am thankful that our special family exists. I am thankful for the continued ministry of CGS. Merry Christmas to you all.
-Petra Menard, CGS Council Vice-President
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.