First Things First

by the Rev. Ray Hess

It’s easy to get sidetracked in our lives. We easily can put off the really important things and become tied down with activities that really do not matter. I like to paint watercolors. This is an important thing in my life that makes a difference for me. Yet it is so easy for me to do all kinds of other activities and not sit down to paint. I’m a fan of Stephen Covey, who wrote the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of his principles was “First things first.” In other words, make the most important aspects of our lives first.

In I Corinthians 13:13, Paul said, “And now faith, hope, love abide, these three; and the
greatest of these is love.” Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor. Love is the central part of our lives, the “first thing.” Loving God and loving others are the most important things to do; everything else is secondary.

When Bishop Megan visited our parish in January, she met after the service with our vestry. She asked us if we have a mission statement. We knew that it was printed on the cover of each By George newsletter but had difficulty remembering it. The mission statement is at the top of each newsletter: Growing with You in God’s Love and Service. A shorter version is Growing in God’s Love. I think that I can remember this!

I hope this year to make this excellent mission statement more central for our parish, so that each of us would have this on the tip of our tongues. Growing in God’s love is our “first thing.” In February, we have Valentine’s Day, which celebrates love, especially romantic love. This is a good month to focus on God’s love as we see it in Jesus. Jesus’ kind of love is self-giving love, which seeks the good of the other person. As Paul said, “Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:5-7).

This month and through this year, I encourage us to focus on growing in God’s love. We are a very caring congregation already. How can we grow more deeply in this love and caring? How can we bring this love to the community and world around us, so that others can experience God’s love? Let’s make God’s love the First Thing in all that we do!

Poinsettias for Christmas

Untitled-4Poinsettias 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 15th ).

christmas-flowers

Christmas Services

Angel star

 

Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 24 – 7:00 p.m.
Christmas Eucharist
followed by “Happy Birthday Jesus” party in the parish hall. Father Ray will preside and preach.

5th Day of Christmas

Sunday, December 29 – 10:00 a.m.
Festival of Lessons and Carols
A Sunday worship service with many Bible readings and Christmas Carols.

12th Day of Christmas

Sunday, January 5 – 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
Christmas Eucharist
A Sunday worship service celebrating the season of Christmas. 

advent-candles11

 

 

Where your Heart is

by the Rev. Bob Olsen

A couple of weeks ago, during his sermon, Fr Ray noted his Mazda MX-5 had been backed into by a neighbor. Having his “baby” dinged up was disconcerting and that it took some time for him to remember things are things and it is our relationship with God and others that is important. I apologize in advance if I’ve misquoted his sermon. While he didn’t quote Matthew or Luke – “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” it got me to thinking about the things in my life and their “importance.” Now we named our little red sportscar Ralphie, after the main character in “A Christmas Story” as I mentioned to Sandy the evening we got the car I might not be able to tuck the car under my pillow as Ralphie did his Red Rider BB-Gun, I could snuggle up to the owner’s manual. Anyway, about three months after we bought Ralphie, a fellow backed into me in a parking lot. Needless to say, I was upset that my almost brand-new baby had been damaged. However, I discovered it was hard to stay angry when describing how our car was hit by a boat. Oh, the guy who backed into us was towing a boat and the prop put a gash in the front of the car. No one was hurt, the car was drivable, could be fixed and while Ralphie was my baby, it was still just a car.

Over the years I’ve had other vehicles hit – our ‘59 Triumph TR3 (Sandy’s car when we got married) by a fellow in a hurry to get to the police station to apply to be a policeman. I still wonder how that interview went. Or when Sandy told me our brand-new 1971 Toyota Station Wagon had been hit by a Columbus Georgia garbage truck, the image in my mind was a crumpled heap of blue metal. No one was hurt, our little car was drivable with just a little dent in the rear fender and the City owned up to the accident. When telling people our car was hit by a garbage truck – not your everyday occurrence, I couldn’t help but chuckle.triumph-spitfire-convertible-car

Being a California boy coming of age (meaning 16) in the 60’s meant cars and driving has played a big part in my life. However, among the good qualities I learned from my dad, I keep cars for at least 10 years or 100,000 miles and maybe a bit longer. As such, regardless of naming them, or going to sleep with the owner’s manual under my pillow, they have always been simply transportation. I think that has helped me keep “things” in perspective, there is nothing I own that I couldn’t do without, not so for the people in my life.

So this article doesn’t become a book, I’ll mention just two. Even though Biblical Archaeology Digest is the last of the magazines I’m getting for Fr Zea, I still think of him often as he saw the good in everyone. He loved God and all of his neighbors, even some that I thought of as “difficult.” Fr Bob Gould had much that same quality, a gentle soul whose greeting and good bye always include “love”. I pray that I and all of us can follow their example.

A Representative Democracy

by the Rev. Raymond Hess

As we celebrate Independence Day in our nation, it is helpful to remember that the Episcopal Church is organized in a very similar way to our country. This was no accident; many of the people who designed the structure of our new nation in the late 1700s were members of the new Episcopal Church, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin. Their desire was to form a church that was governed by its people. This is what happened!

The Episcopal Church is set up as a representative democracy, where people at the parish level elect leaders to represent them. Each parish has an Annual Meeting where members of the vestry (the church board) are elected by parishioners. The Annual Meeting also elects delegates to the Diocesan Convention, which makes decisions for the diocese. Our St. George’s delegates for 2018 are Sandra Crenshaw, Aaron Adkins, and Becky Freie. Alternates are Mel Rose and Deb Hess. The Diocesan Convention meets once a year, and this year will be at the Redding Civic Center in Redding on November 9-10.

The Diocesan Convention elects Deputies to General Convention, which meets every three years to make decisions for the whole Episcopal Church. Each diocese elects four clergy and four lay deputies. All diocesan bishops also are voting members of General Convention. General Convention moves around to different cities across the United States. General Convention meets this year in Austin, Texas from July 5 – 13. I was a deputy from our diocese at the General Convention in 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was an amazing experience to be part of this gathering of thousands of Episcopalians!

In the Episcopal Church, our bishops are elected by the people, not appointed from on high. Bishop Beisner will be retiring in June of 2019. A profile of our diocese has been created for prospective candidates, and a nominating committee has been formed. The nominating committee will present a slate of candidates to our diocese later this year. On February 9, 2019, there will be a special Electing Convention of our diocese at Trinity Cathedral. Those who are current diocesan delegates will vote to elect our new bishop. The new bishop will be consecrated at a service on June 29, 2019.
As you can see, our Episcopal Church is set up as a representative democracy, where power comes from people in local congregations. As with our nation, the whole structure depends on active, informed people who get involved in our church’s life. Please keep our representatives and our church governance in your prayers for God’s guidance.

Happy Independence Day!independence day

Come, Holy Spirit!

by the Rev. Ray Hess

On May 20th, we will celebrate the third major feast day of the church year – the Day of
Pentecost. This is least known of the major feast days. Christmas and Easter are very well known, but many people have no idea about the meaning of Pentecost.

Pentecost!

The Day of Pentecost is about the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the early followers of Jesus. According to the author of Luke and Acts, the disciples were in Jerusalem on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, a spring harvest festival that is fifty days after Passover. As the disciples gathered together, there was a rush of wind that filled the house, tongues of fire rested on each of them, and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were able to praise God in various other languages. People gathered around the house could hear them speaking in the native language of each one.

Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church. The coming of the Spirit empowered the first disciples to do the mission of Jesus – to preach, teach, and heal as Jesus did in his ministry. The presence of the Holy Spirit is described in various ways in the New Testament. The common meaning is that God is present and active in our lives, not far off in a distant way, but within us in a very personal, intimate way. The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries. People in all cultures and nations can know God’s presence through the Spirit.

Pentecost Sunday is a powerful reminder to us at St. George’s that God is present with us, both as a Christian community and individually. The power and guidance of God is available to each of us.

It makes all the difference for us as a parish to be open to the guidance, love, and power of the Holy Spirit.

I wish us all a powerful experience of the Spirit this Pentecost!

Pentecost Sunday – May 20

by the Rev. Bob Olsen

Pentecost Sunday is coming up on May 20th, please remember to wear red that day, as a symbol of the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost Dove

Also, on that day at the end of the Gospel, I am looking for volunteers to say John 3:16 in different languages all at the same time, similar to that reported in Acts when the disciples spoke in languages that all could understand.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

 We will be doing this at both services so please let me know if you’d like to participate, at which service and in what language.