Happy Pentecost!

by the Rev. Ray Hess

Pentecost is the orphan of the three great Christian feast days – Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Churches tend to be full on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, but not so much for Pentecost. Like Easter, Pentecost moves around for its date; this year the feast day is Sunday June 4 (fifty days after Easter Sunday).

You will not see Pentecost cards, gifts, or special family celebrations. Does your family get together for a Pentecost dinner? Probably not. Why is Pentecost difficult to celebrate? I think it is because we have a hard time dealing with the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit and how does the Spirit act in our lives?

Pentecost DoveThese are not easy questions to answer.

The feast of Pentecost is based on the account in the Book of Acts in the New Testament, part of the story of the Gospel according to Luke and Acts, both by the same author and really like parts one and two of a play. According to Luke/Acts, the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples for forty days after his resurrection, then ascended to be with the Father in heaven, and then ten days later sent the Holy Spirit upon his disciples on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost (a spring harvest festival fifty days after Passover).

The New Testament talks about the coming of the Spirit in a variety of ways, mostly in Luke/Acts, the Gospel according to John, and the letters of Paul. The Spirit is usually described as God’s presence within us or alongside us. I had an experience a while ago that helped me understand this better. In the fall of 2015, I attended a conference for Episcopal clergy in Richmond, Virginia. While I was there, I was able to meet with an important mentor, Father Bob Hetherington, the priest who encouraged me to go to seminary back in the late 1960s. Bob has been retired for a while and lives in Richmond, where he served as a parish rector. Bob has a very strong sense of the leading of the Holy Spirit in his life. He uses the expression often of being “prompted” by the Spirit.

I like this idea of being prompted by the Spirit, like a person in a play who prompts you with your lines. I want to be open to the guidance of the Spirit in my life. How is the Spirit guiding me? How can I be more aware of the presence and leading of the Spirit, instead of following my own “bright ideas”? I find that my life flows much better when I follow the prompting of the Spirit!

I encourage to you to attend worship on Pentecost Sunday June 4 and to celebrate the coming of the Spirit in the life of the early Christians. I also invite us all to be more deeply responsive to the presence and prompting of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and in our parish.

by Julie Vice

Hello Friends!!

It’s hard to believe that this is the second to last By George article I will be writing. This time has been such a blessing!!

However, before I say goodbye we have a couple fun opportunities together. First is coming up THIS SUNDAY 5/28 when we have ONE service at 10:00 am. This will be a CommUnity worship service.

I would like to explain CommUnity to you in case you are not familiar. CommUnity is more than a service with a funny spelled name. This is a worship experience which has been celebrated everyday Saturday evening at 6:00 pm at St. Mary’s for nearly 6 years. It is a service that recognizes that you (hence the “u” in the word) are important to the experience. The capitalization also recognizes that the word Unity is a huge part of worship; our unity with God and with one another is a huge part of our Anglican faith. CommUnity has been made completely mobile meaning with one plug in I am able to provide a complete worship experience complete with music and video. We have taken the service to several different venues including 5 churches other than our own and various outdoor locations. This service is highly supported by the Bishop and the Diocese as a whole. In fact, we were even invited to lead service at the Bishop’s Conference for over 150 people and had been invited to worship at Camp Noel Porter prior to its closing.

As you can tell, this is a passion of mine, to be able to take our faith and tradition (albeit, looking slightly different) into the world which so desperately needs Jesus’ love and reconciliation.

Please plan to come with an open heart and mind to worship with us on Sunday and I would love your feedback and suggestions following.

The other thing that I am working with several St George folks on is a CommUnity BBQ. This will be held on July 22nd midday. Please mark your calendar please we certainly hope to see you and have you help us to welcome and engage with the larger community. We will be inviting all those who use the property (AA groups, Community gardeners, landscapers, etc) and out neighbors around us. This is an opportunity to get to know each other and possibly to welcome to the church if they find themselves interested. This will only be as good as the amount of folks who engage it!! More details will follow but I wanted everyone to know it is in the works.

So, I think that’s enough for this month. Once again, I feel very blessed to have spent this time with you and hope it can continue for the next couple months and in other ways into the future!!!

God is Good!!
Julie 

Gregory Kenneth Sherrill Memorial Fund Scholarships Presented

scholarshipPlease join us on Sunday, June 11, at the 10:30 a.m. Service as we present this year’s winners of the Gregory Kenneth Sherrill Memorial Fund Scholarships.

We hope you will all join us for the presentation and to help celebrate with this year’s winners.

The scholarship is given in memory of Gregory Sherrill.

Born May 31, 1956 – Died November 14, 1975 of a malignant tumor of the brain. Gregory graduated from La Sierra High School in June 1974. He had a GPA of 3.5. He was on the swimming team and was awarded 3 letters. He took part in a school song and dance group called “The Sound Express” and traveled to Europe with the group where they performed for English, French and German audiences. He was generous. From earliest childhood, he would not accept a casual gift unless there was one for his sister. He had a remarkable sense of humor as an adept punster. He had no patience with the petty ostracism games often played by young people and took the part of those against whom the games were played. He took intense interest in all his courses. He enjoyed learning. He was a member of an Explorer Post of the BSA and became very knowledgeable about edible wild plants and survival techniques. He was active in his church and served as an acolyte.

Aren’t You Worried? Why, Would It Help?

by the Rev. Bob Olsen

The title of my article comes from the Movie Bridge of Spies, that Sandy and I watched one Saturday evening during Lent.  The story is based on a true story, the negations by lawyer James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks) for the release of U-2 pilot Frances Gary Powers for the Soviet KGB spy Colonel Rudolf Abel. Donovan’s first contact with Abel was as his court appointed defense lawyer at Abel’s spy trial, then later on appeals and ultimately his exchange for Powers and return to Russia.  Even at the time of the prisoner exchange Able did not know if he would be returning as a Soviet hero or arrested as an assumed double agent. Through all of this Abel stays calm as Donovan outlines the seriousness of the situation at each stage and pointing out the dire possibilities. Donovan asking Abel: “aren’t you concerned?”, “aren’t you worried?”, “aren’t you afraid?”   And each time Able replies, “why, would it help if I were?”

I have no idea if these were real conversations, copied from James Donovan’s book, or part of the screen writer’s imagination, but they got me to thinking.  During Lent we were to spend time in reflection and developing our relationship with God. In the Lenten materials from the Living Compass we were to develop our ability to listen as we encounter God, but first we have to quite all the distracting noise in our lives. During such reflection I couldn’t help but think of a hymn we sing at the 9 a.m. service, based on Isaiah 43, “Fear not for I have redeemed you.”

As my contemplations often do, I found it interesting that it was the “Godless Commie” (one of many epitaphs used by characters in the movie to describe Colonel Abel) who was able to face adversity: possible execution; a 30 year sentence in jail at age 57; and finally the return to a country that was as likely to arrest him as welcome him. I wondered where such calm came from. First not worrying about what might happen and second accepting the realities of his situation with continued calmness. Somehow his character recognizes that worrying about the “what if’s” and the “what is” won’t change anything.

While we are no longer in Lent, it doesn’t mean our spiritual journey stops. A journey which if we let it, allows us to calmly face the ups and downs of life, secure in the knowledge that through God’s boundless grace we are beloved and need not be in fear, nor worry. Had the season of Epiphany been longer we would have heard on the eight Sunday from Matthew’s Gospel: “…do not be worried about your life…Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt 6:25-27). Jesus tells us not to be afraid, nor to worry, rather we are to seek first God’s kingdom. Good advice when we are bombarded by voices all around us screaming that things have gone too far, not far enough or need to go in any of a 100 different directions.silhouette-1082129_1920

So many things to worry about if we let ourselves, all the potential “if’s” and then in most cases problems which could be classified as “first world problems.” A phrase the morning talk show guys talked about after hearing it from their high school aged kids when describing something that had happened. Again with taking time during lent, I’ve realized that the majority of my “problems” are problems that most people in the world would be glad if that was their only problem.

All of this draws me back to the Holy Week message that Jesus sacrifice on the cross was to redeem us and all we need do is love God and our neighbors, that worrying won’t change anything and only distracts us from that love.

Trusting in God’s grace and secure in our knowledge of God boundless love for us, a love we can rely upon. When we are asked “aren’t you worried?” we can reply like Comrade Abel, “Why, would it help if I were?”

Easter is Over?

Ray Easterby Sandra Crenshaw, Senior Warden

Easter Sunday, the grand and glorious occasion, and all the trimmings that go along with it is over. Now we move on, right? Well, not so fast. Before we move on with all the busyness and normal routines of our daily lives, let us not forget the message of Resurrection Sunday. Easter is not a weekend or season. Easter means that Jesus is alive and the grip of death has now been overcome. We need not be afraid. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, he reminded them to let go of the fear and know his peace. We know that Jesus will never leave us; that as we continue on our journey, he will greet us, lead us, and never forsake us. This is the great news that each of us needs to carry with us daily and spread to all with whom we come in contact.

He is risen! Alleluia!

Come to the Dance!

by the Rev. Ray Hess

At the Great Vigil on Easter Eve and on Easter Day at the 10:30 a.m. service, our choir sang the song “Lord of the Dance.” They did a really fun rendition of this lively song. They were effective, because the week after Easter I kept singing this song in my head! I wasn’t trying to do this, but it was just there playing away in my mind.

Easter BannerIt’s easy to forget that Easter is a season, not just one Sunday.  The Easter Season starts on Easter Sunday and continues fifty days until the celebration of Pentecost (June 4 this year). How can we celebrate this season?

It helps to think of the season as a wonderful dance, given by God.  We are all invited, even if we are not good dancers! The chorus of the song says it well, “Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.”  Jesus is risen and invites us to dance with him in thanksgiving and joy.

There are some things we can do to dance with Jesus:

As I said in my Easter Day sermon at the 10:30 a.m. service, start each day by saying, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” Before you get into your day, say this to yourself, silently or out loud. Several times a week, say the canticle “Christ our Passover.” This is a special canticle for the Easter Season found in the Prayer Book on page 83. It is part of the Morning Prayer service.

  • Read the gospel accounts about the empty tomb and the risen Jesus’ appearances to his disciples. See Matthew chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24, and John chapters 20-21.
  • Read Paul’s reflection on the meaning of the resurrection about thirty years after the event. See Romans chapters 6 through 8 and I Corinthians chapter
  • Watch for signs of the Risen Lord’s presence in your life and in the world around Where do you sense the presence of the risen Jesus?
  • Do something positive to bring the risen Lord’s love and justice to our community and the world. This does not need to be anything grand, just small actions to spread love and compassion.

 

Jesus is risen! Come dance with him this Easter Season! As the song says, “They cut me down and I leapt up high; I am the life that’ll never, never die; I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me – I am the Lord the Dance, said he.”

The Greatest of These Is Love

by the Rev. Ray Hess

In the big scheme of things in the Roman Empire, Jesus of Nazareth was an insignificant nobody. He was Jew in an occupied remote part of the empire. He had no money, no political power, no military power, and a handful of followers. Even so, his personal presence and teaching were enough of a threat to the Roman rulers that they agreed to execute him along with other criminals and traitors. How could a person like this change the world?

This Holy Week and Easter we again proclaim Jesus as the one who was crucified and risen from the dead. Those who followed Jesus found a love which nothing could destroy. Jesus’ non-violent, self-giving love proved to be the greatest force on earth.

As I see the news day by day about our nation and world, I often feel that divisiveness and fear are running things. How does love stand a chance in our world now? Easter is the time of year to stand fast on the rock of Jesus’ love. Jesus is risen, and his love truly is triumphant over all darkness and evil.

I understand that we have many viewpoints in our parish about how to deal with the world’s problems, but I hope that we can unite in proclaiming Jesus’ love for all people, especially for those who are suffering or downcast. Easter is the season to let all people know that love, compassion, and justice are the most important values for our nation and world.

Paul said, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13:13).” This year, let us join in working, praying, and giving to spread this greatest power of all – God’s love.

The joy of Easter be with you!