The Messenger December 2015
Doesn’t it feel dark out lately? It gets dark so early it’s hard to believe what time it is. Although I like the coziness of sitting next to a fire and inside projects, it still somehow leaves me longing for the light. I’m reminded of my brother, Frank’s annual toast on Christmas Eve…” Here’s to the days getting longer!” But we aren’t there yet! Instead we enter the beginning of Advent, the first liturgical season of the church year, and along with nature, we are a people waiting.
Nature isn’t the only place where we find darkness. As we listen to the news and hear continuing stories of hatred, violence and fear, and as we deal with the reality and concerns of our own lives, there is another kind of darkness that can overwhelm us. Things seem out of control and it’s hard to know what we might do to help. Yet, as people of faith and hope, we are asked to wait in this darkness for the Light of the World. What does it mean to wait expectantly and patiently in the darkness?
One of the things that it means is that we are given the gift of this season to prepare
our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Children say it all the time, “I can’t wait!” It’s true that increasingly in our culture we are all about instant gratification, but we can wait. We can wait and prepare and wonder what gift will be born in our hearts anew this Christmas Day?
I regularly use “Forward Day by Day” as part of my daily meditations. Last week I was touched by a reflection on Matthew 18:7, “Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” As the meditation pointed out much of the eighteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel talks about how to live in community and how we ought to treat one another. As I reflected on this meditation I realized how easy it is to point out all of the different stumbling blocks in our lives that other people cause, many of them become part of the darkness that we experience. We can choose to focus on all of those things, but they are usually outside of our control and they just leave us feeling worse. Instead this meditation encourages us to reflect on all the different ways that we are stumbling blocks to one another, to our community and to our world…it asks us to reflect on our own lives, thoughts and feelings…a much, much harder task!
“How am I hurting the people around me, making them stumble? I must remove those stumbling blocks—my anxieties, my irritations, my need for control and order. Through prayer, meditation, and sometimes a walk in nature, the stumbling blocks can be turned into stepping stones, and we can walk a little easier with each other.” (Forward Day by Day, pg. 21.)
That in essence describes perfectly the individual work of Advent, how we can each “prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus.” It’s the hardest work that we can do, but what an incredible metaphor this reflection provides. As we do this work, the stumbling blocks that literally prevent us from moving forward, by the grace of God, are turned into stepping stones. When we follow those stepping stones we will be “whelmed over” by the light of Christ coming into our world and something new will be born within us on Christmas Day.
Blessings and gratitude for each of you as we wait expectantly together! Christy
A few days ago, I was watching the news cover the tensions boiling over on the campus of the University of Missouri. Different student groups were taking polarized positions about the culture of racism on the campus, and the administration’s response to racially charged events. These different groups, including the administration, had a common interest: safety, inclusion, and happiness of all students, however, the strong positions that they had each chosen, made it impossible for the groups to see the common interests that they shared. They had stopped listening to each other.
Shortly after the initial news report, and due to increasing pressure, the President of the University announced his resignation. In his resignation speech he alluded to the reasons for the breakdown in communication: “we stopped listening to each other” and he noted “effective change comes from listening, learning and caring for one another.” It can be all too easy to engage in any given situation or interaction with a myopic point of view, which is not very effective in resolving conflict, and uncovering our common interests. Instead it tends to polarize us and can drive us farther apart as a community.
“Celebrate what’s right with Emmanuel, and be the change you want to see.”
As we move forward with the goals adopted from Data collected from and reviewed with the congregation we will be engaging the congregation in continued discussion groups to help flesh out the specifics of each of these goals. This is an integral component of moving forward and it will be important for all of us to remember in our interactions, to treat each other with respect and maturity working hard to really listen to others and to communicate directly whenever possible. I believe this is especially true for us as a church as we strive in our goal to “be better followers of Jesus.”
To help us with this, I’m attaching the “Guidelines of Respect” to this article. These guidelines are
part of the Covenant of Ministry that the Vestry and Christy entered into when we called her as our rector. The Vestry and Christy agreed that we would attempt to follow them and “whenever possible we will encourage the members of Emmanuel Parish to follow the same Guidelines in order that we might truly honor each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.”
As we continue to embrace change and growth in our church community, let us pray for each of us, the congregation as a whole, and our pastor. Realizing that change and transition can be difficult and does not look the same to everyone, we will all need support, encouragement, prayer, understanding and patience.
We are clearly not Missouri, however, their experience provides an excellent reminder of what can happen when we forget to really listen in order to understand the concerns needs and desires of others and to find our common interests.
Thanking God cheerfully for all of you,
Guidelines for Respect
In keeping with the intent of this Covenant of Ministry, the Rector and Vestry of Emmanuel Parish will attempt to follow the Guidelines of Respect listed below. In addition, whenever possible, they will encourage members of Emmanuel Parish to follow the same Guidelines in order that we might truly honor each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I’ll do the same for you)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go to Christy together. I am sure she will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you.)
5. Be careful how you interpret me-I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless: a) the person is going to harm herself/himself, b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, or c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not respond to unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you.” I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (she does it better anyway!)
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led) speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone, or breaking a confidence, I will.1
1 The “Guidelines for Respect” come from the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia who first saw them in an article by Church of the Nazarene pastor Charles Christian. They are included as part of the Covenant for Ministry that Christy has with the Vestry and Emmanuel Parish.
Read All About It
Remember to “FILL THE CART” this holiday season!
Look for the cart in the back of the church where it is easy for everyone to get to it with their food. Then, at the offertory, we will wheel it forward along with our other offerings as a visible reminder of reaching out to help feed the hungry in our community.
Thanks for your help and assistance.
Advent Quiet Day, Saturday, December 12th, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sign-up Now and Offer Yourself the Gift of Quiet during a Very Hectic Season
Save the date and sign up for the Advent Quiet Day in the Undercroft at Emmanuel 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 and in many ways seems out of control. Pastor 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. Registration forms are in the back of the church or send in the form below. A wonderful way to prepare your heart spiritually for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day!
“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!”
Advent Quiet Day, Saturday, December 12th, 9:00 AM -4:00 PM
Emmanuel Episcopal Church • 400 Highland Avenue • Coos Bay, OR
December Youth Group Activities
Join us and Bring a Friend:
Wednesday, Dec. 2nd: 6:00-7:30 PM – Christmas Cookie Making for our Homebound… Join us for fun and a great service project!
Wednesday, Dec. 16th: 6:00-7:30 PM – Packaging cookies, Card making and Fellowship. Please let Christy know if you plan to attend as it helps in dinner planning! Thanks!
Music Search Update
We have followed up with all of the different suggestions that Tom gave me before he left, names that others have offered, and with those who have responded to the ads we placed. It seems that currently there isn’t anyone available in our local area. Therefore, we will be expanding the circle of our search and reaching out a bit further.
Here is how you can help:
• Please pray for our search process, that we are able to find and be found by the person/s who God chooses to join us at Emmanuel to play our organ and lead our music team.
• Please network with anyone you know who might be interested or know of someone who might be interested.
• If you’d like to serve on the search committee please talk to Christy or email her.
God of joy, love and peace, we give thanks for the gift of music!
We ask for your help and guidance in finding Emmanuel’s next organist
and next music leader/choir director. Bring them to us, Lord, and
help us to keep our hearts and minds open. Help us to trust that you have a
musical vision and dream for us as a congregation and bring us a leader who can
help lead us into that future. We ask this with gratitude for your presence with us
and for all those who are helping us during this interim time to
“make a joyful noise unto you”!
The Annual Meeting of our Parish will be on January 24th.
More information to follow but please save the date.
November 2015 127th Oregon Diocesan Convention Notes on Keynote Speaker by Sheryl Gerety
The Rev. Anthony Guillen, Officer for Latino/Hispanic Ministries for the Episcopal Church, gave the keynote address at the 127th Diocesan Convention in Ashland this November 13, 2015. While the theme of our convention was the beauty of holiness, Rev. Guillen spoke on the following concerns: a growing Hispanic/Latino presence in the population very soon to be the majority throughout Oregon contrasted to the static or dwindling church membership many of our congregations are now experiencing. We also are seeing a retreat from organized religion among the young families in our communities, so the loss of a new generation is or ought to be causing us to pay attention to recruiting membership. So that by extension, we might consider the beauty of holiness in reaching out to the Hispanic/Latino members of our communities to come together and share our traditions.
He began his address by asking the audience to accept the premise that given our membership challenges we were not bringing our best efforts to the challenge of growing our churches – that we had become apathetic to churches closing, their properties sold off as Episcopal parishes. He showed tables of demographic statistics to prove his point that Latino/Hispanics will soon be our largest population bloc.
Rev. Guillen initiated a discussion among the delegates: are we apathetic? Some of us described ourselves as overwhelmed — the need to recruit –- particularly from an ethnic community – while continuing other necessary parish functions. Delegates named fear of combining different traditions of worship as well as fear of having invitations turned down. Delegates who accepted apathy as a problem described the loss of membership as an overwhelming challenge choosing to believe that continuing community service is the best option to invite new members.
Rev. Guilllen, by deconstructing the composition of the Latino/Hispanic community, reassured delegates that bringing faith traditions together need not feel threatening. This population, he assured us, is primarily English speaking and expects to worship in English. But they love the familiar hymns from their native traditions, and value Spanish music as a part of the service.
In conclusion, Rev. Giullen urged us to invite the Latino/Hispanic community to worship and to include traditional music from Spanish language hymnals in our liturgies. The incorporation of both Spanish and English readings and music was modeled throughout the Morning Prayers, Evening Prayers and Eucharist services at the convention.
FOR THE HEALTH OF IT By Kerry Oxford RN, Parish Nurse
“Deck the Halls and Pass the Fudge.”
We started our January 2015 newsletter with plans to focus on an attitude of gratitude and staying in the moment. Many of the year’s newsletters centered on stress reduction and stress management. So…let’s end the year with some humor and ways to create more dazzle and less frazzle this Christmas. Let’s soak up the joy, laughter, sleep in heavenly peace, be merrily in the moment, and feel our best during this crazy, most wonderful time of the year…Really!!
We have set out this year being more mindful, balanced, and calm. By now is it a way of life? (Yay, us!). Now, all that inner peace may be threatening to disappear. Our high expectations for this time of the year creates more anxiety and stress as we pour our energies into presents, decorating, and all the festive activities. We try so hard to create perfection for our families we can often feel more like Mr. Grinch.
With all the shopping, cooking, traveling, and decking the halls, living room, family room, dining room, office buildings and school rooms, feeling pressed for time is a major source of stress. Until Santa and his elves can manufacture a 25th hour in the day, use some of these short-cuts to de-frag your brain and streamline the holiday time-sucks.
1. Parties Leave You Feeling Drained
The stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s feels like a marathon (running from an abundance of holiday desserts and eggnog.) If you are a party animal, bear in mind that less sleep, and more high-calorie foods can wreak havoc on your digestive system, immunity, and mental health.
HOWEVER- we all love a good party so choose your favorites and enjoy in some moderation. Be selective. Don’t go to a party unless you really, really want to. Or your boss really, really wants you to, or your husband’s boss really, really wants you to. Try your best not to schedule commitments more than 2 nights in a row. (I’ve never learned how to do that one!)
Maintain your exercise routine. Now is not the time to give up your yoga or aerobics. Keep up the exercise and you can have more fudge, cookies, and pie!
2. Holiday Travel is the Worst.
I don’t know anybody who disagrees with this one. A Zen attitude won’t un-delay your flight or move traffic (if only!), but it will make an interminable wait slip by a bit faster. If you feel your blood pressure escalating to stroke values try to concentrate on what you love about this season. Think about midnight service at church with the congregation singing Silent Night with the church lit only by candles. Practicing this will re-direct your attention when the airline suspends your flight. (Just how long does it take to de-ice a plane?!) Finally, if stuck in an airport, look at the people around you and imagine what their story is. This empathy will make you feel like you’re part of something larger and more meaningful. Now… go to the airport gift shop and buy some fudge.
3. A Boatload of Unfinished Gifts.
I have a large extended family and I love to buy multiple presents for all of them which means they all need to be boxed, bagged, or wrapped. I usually find this chore overwhelming. My husband says, “Buy less presents!” After nearly 40 years of marriage I have yet to accomplish that but I have found a way to make it more pleasant. I order a pizza, put on my favorite Christmas music and for every 5 presents I wrap I reward myself with a piece of fudge. (No wonder I still buy so many gifts.) Or, I could just use gift bags, who doesn’t like gift bags?! I may need to review that one!
4. Family Members Push All Your Buttons and You’re Stuck With Them for Days.
We know, we know. Your sister’s first back-handed compliment makes your calm, graceful goodwill disappear faster than the fudge. This year, before all the relatives gather, set a mantra like, “I will be patient and calm and embrace this happy holiday.” Easier said than done when your brother puts himself in charge of the music and you are listening to “Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer” for the 7th time in a row. And, when your father-in-law claims global warming is just an elaborate hoax, change the subject. “How about those San Francisco 49’ers.”
The only way I know to get around the annoying relations is to remind yourself of all their many good attributes and how much you love each other and would do ANTHING for each other…and then eat more fudge.
5. Your Tree Takes Over the Room.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, how space-hogging are thy branches! Ever notice how much smaller Christmas trees look in the tree lot or better yet, the forest? Or, how narrow front doors are when pulling, pushing, lugging, and tugging the tree up a flight of stairs, where the tree now occupies one-third of the room and you can’t see the TV through the branches? Don’t look behind you because there are now 400,000 pine needles on your freshly-shampooed carpet. You really need to like the pine needles because they will be there for many months.
OK, now for the decorations. Do you really need to put on all those 400 ornaments? The answer is yes, because if you don’t your mother-in-law will notice the one that she gave you 15 years ago is missing and your now adult children will wonder why all those clothespin reindeer that they made in first grade are missing. When all else fails, tell them the cat destroyed them and pass them some fudge.
How many times have you walked around the tree 50 times getting the string of lights just right, flipped the electric switch and nothing happens…because somewhere on that string of 75 lights, ONE is loose or burned out…now find which one. My husband has an entire set of expletives he reserves just for tree decorating times.
OK…how many of you use tinsel on your Christmas tree…bet you’re still finding some on that once-clean carpet years later. Besides… the cat loves to play with it. Speaking of the cat…Do not panic when you discover that your cat has decided that he is the tree-topper and those highest branches are there for him to perch on. WARNING: Do not startle, screech or ATTEMPT to physically remove the cat from the tree. CAT’S RESIST THIS. Put his favorite treats on the floor and he’ll make his way down with much less destruction. In theory this works! Now have a glass of wine and a piece of fudge.
Why do we go through the stresses, anxieties, and pressures of this season? BECAUSE WE LOVE IT!! Jesus is re-born as God’s most precious gift each and every year so, celebrate, enjoy the festivities, and each other. Laugh and sing. It’s good for you. It’s healthy. Here’s to the end of 2015. Now pass the fudge, stand under the mistletoe and love each other.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your support. Here’s to a fun-filled and healthy 2016. God bless you all. Anybody have any left-over fudge?
Favorite Sayings for the Month:
When you stop believing in Santa you get underwear.
Dear Santa, I can explain.
Dear Santa, Define “good.”
Dear Santa, Can we negotiate?
Coffee Hour and Fellowship
December 6 – 7:30 Service John & Teri Whitty/Joe Benetti – 10:00 Service The Davidson’s
December 13 – 7:30 Service Loanne Lark – 10:00 ServiceGretchen Keane/ Ralph Holland
December 20 – 7:30 Service Faye Stuart – 10:00 ServiceHOST NEEDED
December 27 – 7:30 Service HOST NEEDED – 10:00 ServiceDiana Wall
Sign-ups are in the undercroft and entryway.
Dates to remember:
Thursday, December 3rd- Shopping for Gifts
Week of the 7th – 11th – organizing and filling baskets
Sunday, December 13th 11:30 AM – Wrapping Party
Tuesday, December 15th – Thursday, December 17th – Pass out Baskets