The Messenger December 2014
As our culture moves full swing into the celebration of Christmas, the church turns our attention to the season of Advent and the beginning of the liturgical church year and story. It is a counter-cultural time…we wait expectantly for the birth of Jesus and prepare our hearts for his coming, again, into our lives and our world, while our culture has been playing Christmas carols for weeks, encouraging us to shop until we drop!
Tradition has it that the origin of the Advent wreath dates back to a more agricultural time. The crops were in, the fields were lying fallow and farmers would take off one of the wheels on their wagon and bring it inside. They would decorate it with greens and four candles, to help expectantly wait for the birth of Jesus on Christmas. The act of taking off the wheel helped the family to slow down and have more time for pondering and reflection. I have always loved this image and for decades now have been looking for just the right wood wagon wheel to make into an advent wreath for our family. I sometimes ponder what it would be like to take off one of the tires of our car, perhaps a metaphor for simplifying our lives to the bare minimum of running around and taking the extra time to spend with God, with each other and helping our neighbors in order to prepare for the birth of Christ.
Apparently, I’m not the only one to have been pondering these things. A few years ago, in an attempt to reclaim the Advent season and Christmas from a season of consumerism and give it back to Jesus, a group of five pastors, including one from Portland, developed the Advent Conspiracy. Their four tenets are
1.) Worship Fully: A reminder that the Advent season starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus
2.) Spend Less: Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year? This is a reminder that sometimes
we can get caught up in the consumerism of our culture and spend money on gifts that aren’t remembered or needed. (America spends about $600 billion dollars during the Christmas season each year) Advent Conspiracy suggests that by spending wisely on gifts we free ourselves from the anxiety associated with debt so we can take in the season with a full heart.
3.) Give More: The most powerful, memorable gift you can give to someone else is yourself and nobody modeled that more than Jesus. How might we gift our friends and loved ones with more of ourselves this season?
4.) Love All: It all boils down to love. Love from a Savior. Love to a neighbor in need. By spending just a little less on gifts we free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help. This is the conspiracy that was started by 5 pastors just a few years ago and has turned into an international movement.
Their website is www.adventconspiracy.org and it has some great ideas about how to truly embrace Advent.
In some ways this season is even more poignant for us at Emmanuel because we are preparing for our “patron saint” if you will. “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel…” Emmanuel, God with us, is about the birth of Jesus into our world in Bethlehem so long ago, and about the birth of Jesus into our hearts on a daily basis. But in order to truly celebrate the birth we must prepare and that is what we do during Advent.
I look forward to preparing, reflecting and pondering with you as we expectantly await the coming of Jesus into our hearts, our lives and our community. Advent Blessings to you and yours!
What Up With That?? Notes from your Vestry
Upgrades to Pastor Christy’s office computers is complete, many thanks to Ron Kusch. Coming soon, we voted to have an upgrade to the wireless system, so wifi will be available at the Shepherd House, the Church and the Office!!
Repairs to the church roof and steeple were completed during the month, adding life to our existing roof and taking care of the intermittent leaks we have notices in the sanctuary. Many thanks to Susan Foreman for her diligence seeing this through. Other projects in our sights include a replacing a patch of sidewalk that has become uneven, moss removal from the roof in the spring, consideration of ADA improvements to the upstairs restroom, and developing a list of deferred maintenance items.
The bazaar was everything we hoped and more! People came, ate, talked, and lingered, while on the other side of the table there was fellowship among the workers. A good time was had by all. Our outreach fund scored very close to $3,600. Many, many thanks to Terrye Laird who coordinated the event, and to all those who said, “Yes!”
Treasurer Bob Huggins reported October was a break-even month for the church. Stewardship chair Pat Cross reported we have 65 pledges for 2014-2015, totaling over $144,000.
You are in our prayers! Please know the leaders of Emmanuel are praying for each member, by name. As a vestry member, I know this action benefits me as the prayer. We ask you pray for us also!
Advent Quiet Day – December 6th, 9:00 AM -4:00 PM
Save the date and plan to attend the Advent Quiet Day in the Undercroft on Saturday, December 6th from 9:00-4:00. The day is intended to help us set aside time to be still and prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus during a season that many times is out of control. Christy will lead the day which will be made up of four meditations with reflection questions that will help us walk through the four Sundays of Advent. It is a quiet retreat so it is an opportunity to be quiet and reflective within community which can be a very powerful experience. Lunch will be provided and the day will end with the Eucharist. Cost is $10/person to help cover the cost of snacks and lunch, although scholarships are always available. Talk to Christy if needed. Watch for registration forms, mid-November, but be sure and save the date! A wonderful way to prepare spiritually for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day!
Christmas Ministry Update
Requests for Christmas baskets have obtained through the local schools and a Christmas wish list has been created.
- If you choose to help by providing gifts for an individual child you can sign up in the undercroft Sunday November 23-30th.
- Work-parties will be held Thursdays at 6:00 PM and will include making stockings for all the children.
- After Thanksgiving we will have a couple weeks before wrapping day. If you would be willing to spend an afternoon Christmas shopping, contact Susan.
- Baskets will be picked up by families December 16th – 18th. If you would like to help distribute baskets, sign -up sheets will be available.
Contact Susan Foreman: 541-404-3886, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas…..
Here is the schedule of the Christmas services we will offer this year to mark on your calendar. Our community’s worship needs and hopes are diverse but it is the staff and worship team’s hope that this schedule will meet your needs and allow you to enter into the celebration of the birth of Jesus with great joy! Think about someone you know who doesn’t have a church community and invite them to join you. The love of Jesus might just be the gift of a lifetime for a friend or family member!
6:30 AM: Holy Eucharist
12:00 PM: Healing service and Holy Eucharist
Wednesday, December 24th – Christmas Eve Services
4:00 PM: Family Christmas Eve Service with Holy Eucharist
8:00 PM: Traditional “Midnight Mass” at a more convenient hour
Thursday, December 25th, Christmas Day
10:00 AM: Holy Eucharist and Carols
Sunday, December 28th
7:30 AM Holy Eucharist with no music
10:00 AM Holy Eucharist with Christmas Carol Sing-a-long: Let the theology of our Christmas Carols speak to you. We will have a selected opening carol and closing carol but you get to choose all the rest from the Christmas section in the hymnal. Have a favorite hymn, come and join the rest of the congregation in singing it. During the time when we normally do the Gloria, we will take 2-3 requests from the congregation and during the sermon we will take 5-6. Join us and enjoy a sing-a long with your church community of your favorite Christmas Carols.
Youth Group News and Updates:
During the months of September and October we have continued the plan of having some content, some service and a lot of fun. We always start off with dinner while we
gather and catch up. Our content has focused on prayer…experiencing meditative prayer a couple of different ways and learning about how to offer ourselves as an “intercessor” or pray-er for others. Service consisted of making dog bones for the Blessing of the Animals and to sell at the bazaar. We’d love to have you join us!
December Youth Group Activities
December 3rd: 6:00-8:00 Christmas Cookie Making for our Home Bound Members
This will be a fun evening of making and frosting Christmas cookies and preparing them for the older members of our congregation while we have fun together. Dinner is at 6 so plan on coming and bringing a friend…just let me know by Tuesday the 2nd if you will be able to be there so I know how to prepare.
December 17th: 6:00-8:00 Christmas Cookie Making for our Home Bound Members, Part 2
Frosting and packaging the cookies and getting them ready to give away, making cards and practicing the carols as we ponder ways to “prepare our heart for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day!”
December 21st after the 10:00 service : Caroling Party: Joining with members of the congregation in a caroling party to deliver the cookies and share some Christmas joy!
Calling All Potential Vestry Members
1. Vestry: noun
noun: vestry; plural noun: vestries
– a room or building attached to a church, used as an office and for changing into vestments.
– a meeting of parishioners, originally in a vestry, for the conduct of parochial business.
– a body of parishioners meeting in a vestry
It’s so useful when the definition uses the word being defined, don’t you think?? Vestry is the Episcopal word for Emmanuel’s leadership team. A leadership team should have some of the following qualities:
– Ability to motivate others o Flexibility
Are you interested in being part of Emmanuel’s leadership team? We are looking for more than a few good men and women (6) who would be willing to serve Emmanuel or terms of 2-3 years. The nominating committee, Patty Hanlin, Dave Kronsteiner, Angie Gibson, Susan Foreman, Marcia Mann, headed by Jeff McKeown would like to have a conversation with you! It’s only fair you should know what being a member of the team involves.
If you know of someone with talents who should be part of the team, please let any member of the nominating committee or pastor Christy know.
Thursday Evening, An Informal Beginning for our Diocesan Convention
Thursday night was the informal beginning of our Diocesan Convention with a soup dinner at St. Paul’s in Salem. As delegates gathered for
dinner we also helped to package the “personal bags” for St. Paul’s Helping Hands Ministry and we learned about its beginnings as well.
Remember the razors that we collected along with other congregations in the Southern Coast Convocation? They were added to the bags with the items that other convocations brought (like shampoo, deodorant, tooth paste, etc,) and the pile of personal bags to give away was heart-warming. Then we learned about the beginnings of the Helping Hands Ministry and the Interfaith Shelter Program that they started at St. Paul’s. Later in convention we were challenged to reflect about what ministries in our area will have Emmanuel’s name on them in the next 5-10 years. What will the needs be and how will we help to meet those needs in our own community? The evening ended with a beautiful Taize service in St. Paul’s sanctuary… a wonderful, prayerful way to begin our Diocesan convention.
The ECW of the Oregon Diocese Convention Luncheon – Friday, November 14.
“Mary Magdalene, Julia Chester Emery and 40 Years of Affirmation”.
The very savory luncheon was highlighted by a speech by The Rev. Susan Church, Vicar of St. Luke by the Sea, Waldport and St. Stephen, Newport.
She shared her struggles as a woman who at age 9 was called to serve but could not identify that calling because there were no women priest at that time.
She also shared about the hardships of the “Philadelphia eleven who were the first women ordained 40 years ago. Supposedly heard at that ordination, “They may have gained 11 priests but they lost 4 bishops”.
Rev. Church reminded us of the Biblical role of Mary Magdalene; apostle, financial supporter, faith sharer, and spreader or the word after the resurrection. Mary who saw Jesus through the best and worst of times.
Julia Chester Emery was held up for us as an amazing woman who is know for her founding work in establishing The United Thank Offering.
While women have made great strides in the last 40 years in their influence in the church we have 2000 years to make up for.
The officers of the ECW announced that the 25th Annual Spirituality Day for 2015 will by October 3 at St. Albans in Tillamook.
Respectfully Shared, Terrye Laird
Support of Palestinian Human Rights
This complex and emotional issue was brought before the convention. It sighted the 2014 actions of the World Council of Churches, the USA Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church along with the choices of Israel that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people. The resolution was for the Diocese and Parishes to implement economic sanctions. There were 6 companies listed but indicated that any action might not be limited to those 6.
The substitute resolution that passed the Convention was for a study to divest the Oregon Diocese of those specific holdings that profit from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
This resolution is complex in understanding the actual problem in Palestine, writing and taking an action that condemns but does not alienate Israel, and understanding just what control the Diocese has over its own investments.
This matter will now be turned over to the Social Responsible Investment Committee to study and bring forth a new resolution at the 2015 Convention.
Respectfully, Terrye Laird
A Resolution on the Inclusion of Prayers for our Enemies in Common Worship
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44, is the bases for the resolution that asks to include prayer for our enemies in the Prayers of the People. The argument was made that “We cannot continue to pray for peace and justice without also seeking to love, understand, and pray for the misguided and traumatized people who perpetuate human rivalry, violence, persecution and revenge.”
However, the Committee on Resolutions of Policy advised that this was an inappropriate resolution as it asks to change the Book of Common Prayer. This change requires a decision from the General Assembly, a much larger scope than just the Diocese of Oregon.
Diocesan Resolution #1
This Resolution was referred to Dioceses from the 77th General Convention. It contains proposed revisions to the Book of Common Prayer. It was presented as information only, as the General Convention makes the decision about this resolution.
Diocesan Resolution #3
This resolution is in support of Interfaith Initiative of Family Homelessness through endorsing the Village Support Network program in the Portland metropolitan area. It also commends congregations throughout our Diocese who are already engaged in the ministry of supporting those experiencing homelessness. It further calls all congregations to action in support of families experiencing homelessness as they transition toward stability and self-sufficiency. Resolution #3 was adopted.
Bishop Hanley kicked off his address to the convention participants by asking “How are the churches in the Diocese doing?” As Nancylee, Terrye, Christy and I stared at each other, wondering if we should start shouting out something about ours, he went on to tell us a special version of the stone soup story. Rather than retell it here, I encourage you to visit your local library or google the story to read for the first time or reacquaint yourself with the tale. As he finished the entertaining story, he encouraged us, in the next year, to ask how we are doing as a community, church and diocese and then seek answers to help build the vitality of our church family.
He then introduced the Rt. Rev. Brian J. Thom, Bishop of Idaho, as our keynote speaker. After reminding us that he was born and raised in Oregon, then draping an Oregon State sweatshirt over the podium to show his support for his alma mater, we proceeded to be thoroughly entertained and challenged us to “put a new spirit in you and remove your heart of stone”. A perfect segue into the convention theme. In part one of his talk, he urged individual church members to continually ask ourselves why we are Episcopalians and why we come back each Sunday? He also asked us to consider focusing not on adding more people in the pews but instead to practicing serving people, praising God and helping to bring people into His light. The rest will come. This can be enhanced by asking our neighbors what the three biggest needs of our town is, what do they know about our church, and how can we pray for them. Amazing how that can open doors. In part two he continued with posing the question, “What are the three physical things to get you to church”? The answer, surprisingly, was parking lot, nursery and women’s bathroom. Hmmm .. give you an idea who has the most influence on getting the family to church? As a group, we concluded it’s the women. At least, with the information he gave us. Also, he said to notice what happens in the narthex as people come in. Are they seen, noticed and valued? And, finally, he talked about the passing of the peace. It is liturgical, not hospitality. 80% of communication is visual so concentrate on the person in front of you, make eye contact. When you walk up to that person, see their eyes and see Jesus’ eyes.
We finished our day with a gab fest and review in our room, enjoyed a delicious dinner while being serenaded by a Celtic band, applauded as Bishop Hanley presented this year’s Bishop’s Cross award and then retired to rest up for the final day of the convention. Thank you for the opportunity to network with others of the Episcopal faith and a time to get to know our new Pastor a bit better. I encourage you to sign up next year .. it’s worth it!
Congregational Vitality Task Force
The Congregational Vitality Task Force was formed in the first part of 2014 to develop a common language for vitality in our diocese. Sara Fischer, Canon for Congregational Vitality, led a two sessions to work with attendees to further the work for a common language. The first session focused on Worship that Renews and Engages. We were asked to remember an experience of worship that felt renewing, engaging and inclusive to each of us. We then were asked to reflect on what made that experience memorable for us? The third task was to share two or three choice words or phrases from our reflection and then each table selected ‘language’ (words/phrases) that resonates with those at the table. These were written down and collected.
The 2nd session started with the results from previous surveys. We were also presented with “Essentials for Vital Congregations,” a list of 46 phrases that was the compilation from the previous session. Each table then had to select no more than 10 of the phrases that they felt was the most important. The ones selected at our table of delegates were:
- Exudes contagious enthusiasm
- Calls, connects and sends
- Worships with music that is personally engaging, joyful & connecting
- Intentionally designs liturgy that integrates historical tradition and forms with new expressions
- Practices sacramental hospitality: worshiping Christ, serving him in the world
- Engages neighbors and neighborhoods in serving the community
- Recognizes broken hearts (as in people needing healing of any sort)
Another survey will be widely distributed after the first of the year. This is still a work in progress with more work ahead in developing a common language for vitality.
New Musical Group Forming
On Sunday, January 11th, following the 10:00 AM service, there will be a meeting during coffee hour to discuss the possibility of organizing a group to play recorders. Recorders are part of the flute family, originating in Europe almost a thousand years ago. Made of wood or plastic, they can be played as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble. Many types of music can be played on recorders, making them a fun and versatitle instrument. Ranges include soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.
Anyone interested is welcome to join us at coffee hour.
Women of Emmanuel Meeting 11/16/14
The meeting was called to order by Terrye Laird with a devotion.
Christmas basket fellowship work will begin meeting in the undercroft Thursdays November 20th and continue meeting each Thursday at 6:30 PM until wrapping day Sunday, December 14.
Treasurer’s Report indicated we served at least 158 lunches at the bazaar and made at least $3,000 with more money and bills still coming. We now have about $7,000 in the bank.
Book fair sales totaled $526.31. Books for the preschool were saved totaling $90.85 to be deducted from our profit. We also take some profit in books for our Christmas baskets.
Terrye presented the correspondence including some thank you notes and invitations to be posted in the undercroft.
Also discussed were bazaar and book fair successes and ways to improve, Women’s Pregnancy Resource needs which Ingrid Sullivan will check on periodically, and the possibility of making WOE funds a line item in Emmanuel’s budget where funds would be audited. More discussions on these items will come in the future.
Unfinished Business: Visits to shut-in’s were discussed plus having our Thurs. night youth make cookies to be delivered.
Respectfully submitted, Liz Cowden
FOR THE HEALTH OF IT By Kerry Oxford, Parish Nurse
“‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.”
As we enter Winter, do your thoughts turn to hibernation and sleeping until Spring? Do you feel that you are getting enough sleep?
Millions of Americans report to their physicians that they do not get enough sleep. Day to day stressors, pressures, and ever-increasing demands on our time keep us from enjoying restorative and healthy sleep patterns.
Here are some tips for improving your sleep:
1. Turn your television off. Zoning out in front of the tube is not the relaxing remedy it appears to be. In fact, television can stimulate your brain, making it even harder to unwind. Plus, electronics (including tablets and cell phones) emit light, particularly blue waves that inhibits your body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you prepare for sleep.
2. Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Although alcohol can promote drowsiness it actually throws off your natural sleep cycle and shortens the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, which is your restorative sleep and is crucial for re-building next day memory and concentration levels.
3. Avoid caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and may keep your brain too alert for its normal sleep cycle.
4. Don’t exercise just before bedtime. Energizer bunnies and sleep do not mix. This is a time to relax not wind-up!
5. Don’t eat a heavy meal just before bedtime but eating something light if you feel hungry can be beneficial.
6. Avoid excessive fluid intake of any kind within 2-3 hours of bedtime. The increased need to urinate at night interferes with many people’s sleep.
Here are some helpful ways to survive a sleepless night:
1. Practice mindful breathing. Lie quietly and focus on taking slow deep breaths. When your mind wanders, return your focus to your inhales and exhales. This helps stop your mind from racing and lessens insomnia symptoms.
2. Try a massage. Regular rubdowns help people fall asleep quicker, improve sleep quality and wake up feeling more refreshed.
3. Read. Using as dim a light as possible, pick up a paperback or magazine (avoid E-readers, which emit a blue light.) Aim for a relaxing read, not a page-turning horror or suspense novel that keeps you wide-eyed.
4. Tidy up. Some light, monotonous cleaning (like dusting or straightening up your desk, not rearranging the fridge or scrubbing baseboards) can be soothing, making you rest-ready. Don’t tackle your to-do list just before sleep. Although you might believe that finishing up your work assignments or heavy household chores might give you the peace of mind to drift off, it is actually a sure way to increase your stress level. You can’t zoom around at 80 miles per hour and then go right to sleep. You need to unwind, otherwise you tend to ruminate about the day’s worries and stresses.
Do you have problems falling asleep and staying asleep because your thoughts are racing around in your head and will not slow down? Here is my personal never-fail remedy. Try reciting the Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary prayer over and over SLOWLY to force your brain to relax. It takes practice but it can help.
Here are some more of my favorite quotes for this month:
When people walk into your life, either by chance or by choice, choose to make the best of their day. For yesterday has gone. Today is not over, and Tomorrow can be the Miracle.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Dare to love yourself, as if you are a rainbow with gold at both ends.
Overheard at the grocery store: “I am not 60 years old. I’m 59.95 plus shipping and handling.”
And my all-time favorite:…. “I’d clean my house but I keep getting distracted by all the cool stuff I find.”
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.”
Kerry Oxford, RN Parish Nurse
FROM THE DESK OF ANNE ABDY December 2014 Newsletter
In one month when the semester ends, I will be half way through my formation and academic program. This seems hard to believe! With the Advent season fast approaching it is time to reflect on the ways the God has changed me. This semester has probably been the academically easiest semester even though the academic demands have not changed. Maybe that is because I enjoyed the course work and I have found myself more settled after a year’s adjustment. But this semester has also been one of continued growth whereby I have gone outside my comfort zone too many times that I can count.
Transforming Congregations in Communities has challenged me to reconsider childhood experiences by reframing their impact upon me thus opening myself to the work of the Spirit. Systematic Theology has given me opportunities to articulate my own theology of creation, the nature of God, and Christ. I did not know that I was standing in such good company by agreeing with theologians dating back to the early Church Fathers. I guess somewhere along the way the creeds have integrated into my being.
Pastoral Theology is the class that explains what priests do and why we do the tasks that we do. The discussions are always engaging as my classmates bring their experiences into the discussions. The World Religions class opened my eyes to the notion of hospitality as a part of spirituality amongst different world religions. We really all do believe in the same ground rules but they are just said or practiced in different ways. A great book is God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World by Stephen Prothero.
The practical aspects of the priesthood are slowly introduced in the Middler year. Apart from the pastoral care skills learned in Clinical Pastoral Education over the summer, the homiletics class, Fundamentals of Preaching, is our “practicum class” to preaching in the Chapel of The Apostles (COTA). Next semester we are assigned to preach at Morning Prayer and at Holy Eucharist at the Noon hour. Our professor boasts about our quality of preaching but I bet he does that with all his classes. Anyhow, it is good to know that we are getting top-notch instruction on sermon creation.
The Is God (non) violent? course is two hours of looking at various “violent” or “terror” Old Testament texts and digging through the layers to understand them. It feeds me as does my weekly participation in the seminary “confidential-what is said here stays here” Bible Study and the educational programs offered at St. James. This is what I came to seminary for. It is an oasis and a time of quenching the thirst.
When I reflect on my Rule of Life, I am challenged to study Scripture, engage in an active prayer life through chapel and personal devotional time, and to look for God’s footprint in the midst of it all. For all this I am most grateful.
Have a Holy Advent and blessed Christmas everyone.