by the Rev. Raymond Hess
Lent, already! I feel as if we are just done with Christmas, and here comes Lent. This year, Easter is early on April 1st, and this results in an early Lent. Ash Wednesday is February 14, an interesting combination of the start of Lent and Valentine’s Day. Easter Day is April Fool’s Day and our 40th wedding anniversary for Deborah and me, another interesting combination.
There is a clear theme for Lent this year – love. Valentine’s Day is about love, and the Lenten Season is really about love – God’s love for us in Jesus. Lent sometimes can seem to be a very somber season about penitence and confessing our sins. There is a serious, reflective aspect to Lent. It is important to take a look at our lives and see where we are in our relationship with God. Underlying all this, though, is God’s love. Coming back to God is always good because God is waiting for us with love. God’s love wants the best for us, wants us to be the people God created us to be.
I like the idea of Easter’s being on April 1st. This has special meaning for Deb and me in celebrating our 40th anniversary. We were married on that day at All Saint’s, Carmel because that year it was the Saturday after Easter, a great time to be married with all the lilies still in the church. It just happened to be April Fool’s Day! Easter is about God’s foolish love for us, seen in Jesus being willing to die on the cross for us. God did not hang back and play it safe, but entered human life in Jesus, who emptied himself for us (see Philippians 2:5-11). We are called to respond in foolish love for God and God’s world. Be fools for Christ!
This year, we begin our Lenten journey in love and continue all the way to Easter, celebrating in God’s incredible and foolish love for us. Come join in this journey of love!
by the Rev. Bob Olsen and Carol Adkins
Please join the folks at St. George’s for a Mardi Gras celebratory brunch. All are welcome for this festive brunch immediately following the 10:00 am service on February 11, 2018. This has been a popular occasion and there is promise of some fun entertainment. We have been fortunate to have some wonderful cooks providing the strata, rolls and other accompaniments (like King Cake). We’ll have plenty of food and festive music as we celebrate together before the season of Lent.
Tickets are a bargain at $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 12 & under. Tickets will be available for purchase on Sundays, or by emailing the church (email@example.com).
If you wish to purchase them the day of the Brunch, please leave a message on the church phone (916-487-5600) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name and how many tickets you will purchase. We want to be sure to have enough food for everyone.
Ever since we (Bob and Sandy) joined St George’s back in the spring of 1990 they have held their annual Mardi Gras brunch the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, rather than the traditional Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. I know they’d been holding the Mardi Gras brunch long before we joined, with a special menu and recipe for the strata’s. It’s our Mardi Gras tradition – our big party before Lent – and a party it is. We hope you’ll join us.
by The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California
Our Lent/Spring Bishop’s Book is “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life” by Parker Palmer. At this moment of transition in our diocese, and in a world that often seems overcome with, in Palmer’s words, “the forces of fragmentation,” this classic book helps us to take a look at the ways in which we can support each other in living lives of wholeness.
“Some of the most urgent work of the Church in our time involves learning to look beyond the walls of our churches to notice the ways in which God is at work in the world, and then finding the best ways to join in,” says Bishop Barry.
“That noticing and finding require discernment – one of the most important spiritual abilities a Christian can have. Parker Palmer has shown that he has something to teach us about this necessary skill.”
The paperback edition includes resources for studying this book together, including a DVD with interviews and other footage from Palmer’s retreats at the Center for Courage and Renewal, along with a study guide for readers and leaders.
Stay tuned for more resources and opportunities to connect online with others in our diocese reading this book together.
by the Rev. Ray Hess
Governing the Church does not sound very exciting. This involves doing our finances, running meetings, making reports, overseeing our buildings and grounds, making goals and monitoring how we are doing in accomplishing them. Some people are called to this kind of work as their main ministry and love doing these things. Many others would just as soon avoid this kind of governance work.
Yet this church governance is essential to our congregation. The purpose of all church organization is to help us participate in the ministry and mission of Jesus. Without church governance, we would not be effective in our mission. This is kind of similar to our homes and families. If we don’t pay our bills and keep up our houses, our family life does not go well, no matter how loving we are in the other aspects of our lives. Likewise, if our parish does not pay our bills, maintain our building, and follow our goals, we will not do Jesus’ ministry very well.
This month, we have two events in our parish which relate to our church governance. On Sunday January 21, Bishop Beisner will visit our congregation at both the 9 and 10:30 a.m. services. Among his other responsibilities, our bishop is involved in the governance of our diocese and the governance of the Episcopal Church. It will be important to be present at worship on January 21 to hear our bishop preach and to share in the Eucharist with him. This visit will be especially meaningful because Bishop Beisner is retiring in 2019; this will very likely be his last visit with us at St. George’s.
On Sunday January 28, we will have one worship service at 10 a.m., followed by our Annual Meeting and brunch. At the Annual Meeting, we will elect three vestry members and three delegates to our Diocesan Convention. Our vestry members are responsible for the governance of our parish. Our diocesan delegates elected in 2018 will have the extra responsibility of voting in early 2019 to elect a new bishop for our diocese. Please be sure to attend the worship service and meeting on January 28!
As we enter the new year, pray that our parish will govern our affairs well, to the service of Jesus Christ and his mission in the world. I wish us all a joyful and blessed new year!
by the Rev. Bob Olsen
Several years ago, I started writing my autobiography, after my dad passed away, I realized that there were many questions that I’d wished I’d asked him and decided to tell my story for my sons. If you are already wondering how this ties into Advent, it is a time of reflection and anticipation. The last 45-50 years of my story is as a working adult. As I reflected on my work life realized I learned a lot from the people I worked for and with. In some cases good examples and other not so good. But folks who would form me.
While most of the lessons in dealing with people came at work, they were applicable to all personal interactions. Probably the biggest one is that everyone has a back story, and knowing it would explain why people do and say the things they do. Doing things or saying things that you might find rude or obnoxious, by knowing the backstory you realize it isn’t the individual’s intention, and in most cases, they aren’t even aware how their actions are perceived by other. I remember one fellow I worked with who didn’t do small talk, not even saying or responding to good morning. I learned that shortly before I met him, he had gone through cancer treatment. He was at most in his mid-thirties, at a time when most of us think we will live forever, he learned it isn’t necessarily so. As such he came to feel he didn’t have time for small stuff. While he was in treatment he had also found himself, by default, answering “fine” when asked “how are you?” Realizing that was dumb, he just quite engaging in small talk or what most of us would consider polite conversation before getting down to business. I don’t know if he ever went back to answering how are you or good morning (the day/week after chemo or radiation, is never a good morning). But knowing his history, made it easier for me to work with him and in turn I believe it was easier for him to work with me.
As I write this on a Sunday afternoon, I am remembering in Fr Ray’s sermon, him telling us that the Gospels and lessons are becoming more anticipated as we move from late Pentecost and into Advent. We are not just anticipating Jesus birth, which we will celebrate on Christmas Eve, but his return at the end of the age. The question for each of us to reflect on during Advent is “will we be ready?” Part of being ready is living lives that reflect that the Kingdom is here and now. As you take time to reflect this Advent Season, I would ask you to think about your story – and those whose example has helped you along the way. Especially, those who you may have initially thought of as examples of what not to do, but with time, reflection and learning their stories you realize they were doing the best they could. As I’ve been working on my “story” I believe I’ve done my best each day. However, I have also come realize that on many days the bar for “my best” was set pretty low.
Poinsettias for Christmas
$15 — includes all Christmas Decorations—Altar arrangements—Christmas tree—Swags —Candles—Wreaths, etc.
All gifts are gratefully received by our Altar Guild.
The names of the honorees and donors will be listed in the bulletins on Christmas Day and the Sunday following. To be listed, donations must be received by the 3rd Sunday of Advent (December 17th ).
by Sandra Crenshaw
I cannot believe that we are already entering the season of Advent. It seems like summer just ended and here we are getting ready for Christmas. In fact, as I am writing this I already feel the pressure to decorate for Christmas and I haven’t even recovered from Thanksgiving yet!
The four weeks leading up to Christmas can indeed be a time of anxiety, pressure, and stress for many of us. We need to decorate, shop, bake, gift wrap, entertain, while worrying about staying within our budgets or figure out how to pay the bills when January and February arrive. How can we do it all and still maintain a cheerful holiday spirit?
As I was contemplating how to reduce my stress and live more in the “reason for the season,” I thought it would be nice to participate in the Morning Prayers led by Mel Rose throughout the holidays. Unfortunately, I’m not retired yet and must be at work instead. But thank you, Mel, for offering this wonderful gift to our parishioners. On All Saint’s Sunday, Reverend Anne McKeever handed out the, Living Well Through Advent 2017, a Living Compass seasonal publication which I intend on reading daily through Advent. She left a few on the counter in the back of the church if you haven’t picked one up yet. Lastly, as I was researching more Advent resources, I came across a wonderful website which focuses on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual practices. St. Ignatius of Loyola is best known as the person who founded the Jesuits and whose spiritual insights gave birth to Ignation spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises. Lesser known is the fact that a cannonball wound he received while in the military is actually what led to his conversion experience. Without his conversion there would be no Jesuits or Ignation spirituality. The website has an Arts and Faith: Advent program where you can enjoy a video commentary about works of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures of Advent. These videos are intended to help us take a new look at this season of preparation through the lens of sacred art. Many of you artists in our congregation might really enjoy this. Accompanying the videos are reflections on using the art as a means of Ignation prayer. I already feel calmer knowing these resources are available to keep me grounded during Advent. I hope you enjoy them too.
One last, but important announcement: We would like to have a Christmas Pageant at our Christmas Eve Service and are in need of volunteers. If you plan on bringing your grandchildren to this Service, please ask them if they would be interested in participating. If so, please contact Lani Hahn.