The Messenger January 2017
Today in church we celebrated the baptism of Jesus and during both services we renewed our baptismal covenant (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 304.) As we went through each of the questions I found myself reflecting on the promises we make in each of the statements. I started off this article, thinking that I would go through the whole baptismal covenant. Six pages later I’m thinking that for the newsletter, summarizing my thoughts will be a little more helpful, yet it still feels too long.
I believe that our baptismal covenant is aimed at helping us realize that when we are baptized we begin a journey of discipleship that lasts a lifetime. In some ways I look at the questions that are asked of us as guidelines for our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ. Our response after each of these questions is, “I will with God’s help.” The promise of our faith is that the darkness will never overcome the light and that we are never alone, Jesus has promised to be there to help us on our journey. At the same time, the promises that we make are hard work, substantial and require us to go deeper as we draw closer to our God.
With God’s help, I have been reflecting a great deal about these questions over the last several months. What do I believe is really asked of us as disciples of Jesus Christ? What do the words mean for me? I’m deeply concerned about the lack of respect that I see in our nation and in our world. I struggle with how easy it has become to exhibit power over people and groups rather than coming alongside, empowering and building up. I’m troubled that we are losing our ability to truly listen to someone else’s experience without needing to defend our own. I wonder how sin and evil and darkness play into all of this. How do I respond as a “light bearer- one who bears the light of Jesus Christ” in the darkness to help spread God’s love?
A journey of discipleship implies action and our baptismal covenant is filled with action verbs: persevere, repent, return, proclaim, seek, serve, strive, respect. What does it really mean for me to “persevere in resisting evil?” “Persevere” is a strong word that suggests to me that I don’t give up when it’s hard. I’m wondering if for me it might mean that when others around me are being put down, hurt, or silenced in whatever capacity, I need to be willing to stand with them and do everything I can to create “safe places” or “sanctuaries.” Similarly, proclaim is a strong word that speaks to me of boldness and for me the “good news” filters down to God’s willingness to be in loving and forgiving relationships. I wonder how I boldly take God’s love and forgiveness into every contact I have with individuals 24/7?
“Strive for justice and peace among all people?” Wow, this one is really hard for me to get my arms around as it’s so huge. It seems to be talking about world peace, equality, and abundance for all. What’s my part in that? I wonder how that fits with our world-wide refugee problem, or questions about immigration and religious tolerance?
“Respect the dignity of every human being.” How do I respect the dignity of someone like Hitler who caused pain, suffering, and death for many innocent people? I think about parenting and the times you have to tell your kids, “I love you and I always will, but I do not like your behavior right now!” Maybe it’s similar to that since I certainly don’t like or approve of his behavior, although it’s also different because I don’t love him, either. I wonder if there’s a way to hold a place for “respect of his dignity” because he, too is a beloved child of God? Perhaps that lets me still hold him accountable for his behaviors while letting go of any need for me to personally judge him, opening the door to respecting his dignity.
Maybe“respecting dignity” comes from the ability to truly listen, understand, and empathize with someone’s story? We can hone our listening skills by being mindful of the difference between listening and debating, of asking wondering questions rather than putting down or arguing. Perhaps God’s vision allows us to see someone for who they are, accept them and respect their dignity, even if they are totally opposed to everything that we stand for.
I believe it’s important for us to grapple with these promises we make because how can we truly offer hospitality, inclusivity, or welcome to all who come through our doors unless we understand how to respect their dignity? How can we create a safe place or sanctuary for people to experience God’s love for them if we fail to respect their dignity or fail to offer hospitality to all?
One of Jack’s and my favorite movies is American President. These reflections remind me of a scene in the movie where the President, Andrew Shepherd, is giving a speech defending the rights of US citizens. The speech takes place after the President’s most outspoken opponent has found a very old picture of his girl-friend burning the American flag, in a rally that was opposing apartheid.
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free”
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a light-bearer in our world, isn’t easy either. It’s hard work and yet, if it’s going to mean more than lip-service, then we too have to be able to listen, understand and respect the dignity of someone whose words and actions make our blood boil…and then we have to be able to come to the table, the meal of our Lord, side by side to receive the grace that our God offers readily to all people.
Personally, I find this incredibly challenging, but it is life-giving work at the same time. In the midst of it I feel Gods loving invitation for me to be willing to be transformed by grace. In some ways that’s what this is all about, our own journeys of discipleship. I don’t believe our motivation on this journey is to change others, but rather to be open to God’s love and presence ourselves. In turn, that is what will ultimately “transform the world through the love of Jesus Christ” while also transforming each of us.
Obviously, these are huge thoughts and wonderings that I’m currently reflecting on and at this point I don’t have many answers. I know that I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ, on a journey, just like you and I look forward to continuing on that journey with each of you!
Epiphany blessings to you and yours! Christy
“We are a community that takes great joy in worshiping, praying and breaking bread together. We are committed to serving others, and to respecting the dignity of every human being.”
Maybe you have been hearing or seeing this statement recently. It is an identity statement developed from the mutual ministry visioning event held at the history museum. It is just one of the many things that your vestry has been working on over the last several months.
Some of the others things the vestry has been working on range from more banal including updating the security system, adding deadbolts to many of the exterior doors, looking at exterior lighting for the parish house, and preparing for the annual meeting coming up at the end of January to more paramount items such as the identity statement above, approving new bylaws for the preschool board, as well as, their 2017 budget.
We also approved a difficult congregational budget for 2017, attempting to follow God’s call in furthering the mission of the church while being fiscally responsible and ensuring sustainability with the resources of the congregation. We are very blessed as a church; however, the difficulties with respect to the gap between expenses and pledges is not new. Pray for discernment with respect to stewardship and make your gifts in grateful response to God whether they be of time, talent, or treasure.
Finally we are preparing to replace 3 vestry members including myself, Carla Courtney, and Virginia Roush. Serving on the vestry is an opportunity to use your gifts in service for others, to guide our congregation’s ministries, as well as an opportunity to receive and benefit from your service. If you are considering serving on the vestry remember you are not alone you will have companions, the body of Christ has many parts and the necessity of working as a body can enrich your life and deepen your relationship with God. Whether or not you are considering the vestry, please pray for perspicacity in the election process, and if you are curious or have any questions contact the nominating committee (Myself, Carla, and Virginia) or any other vestry member about being on vestry or anything else you may have questions about.
Thanking God for all of you, Troy Cribbins Sr. Warden
Annual Parish Meeting and Potluck Lunch
January 29th, Following the 10:00 Service
This year the Annual Meeting of our church community will be held following the 10:00 service and will begin with a potluck around 11:15. It is our hope that this can be a wonderful gathering of the whole community that celebrates our mutual ministry together. Please bring a potluck item to share. Help celebrate all that we have to be grateful for as a faith community. This is an exciting time filled with promise and we hope you will join us.
If you’re new to Emmanuel you might be asking what happens at the Annual Meeting? It’s a time to gather and discuss the state of the parish. We will affirm and accept the budget developed by our Treasurer, Bob Huggins, and the Finance Committee, and approved by the Vestry at their meeting on December 20th. We will also elect 3 new Vestry members and delegates to convention. You will hear from our outgoing Senior Warden, Troy Cribbins and from Christy about the state of the parish and we will all celebrate and give thanks to God together for the abundance we share. We hope to see you there!
Anne Abdy’s Ordination to the Priesthood will be on January 28, 2017, at 2:00PM
at the Church of the Resurrection, located at 3925 Hilyard Street, in Eugene.
Christmas Thank You’s
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the individuals and teams of people who made our Christmas season and activities so special this year.
• To all of our musicians who helped enliven our worship services during Advent and the 12 days of Christmas: the choir, contemporary group, Carla on organ, Nancy on piano, Carla and Dan who lead our musical groups, Robert Cribbins and Al Rumsch who provided beautiful Advent music for us on the dulcimer and recorder and Cullen Cribbins who offered his gifts on the piano during our 4:00 Christmas Eve service.
• To the eucharistic ministers, acolytes, all who served at the altar and our ushers for taking care of all of the details involved in each of the services.
• To the altar guild who painstakingly and patiently took care of decorating and preparing the church with loving care for all of our worship services.
• To the youth of the parish who made Christmas cookies and cards for our home bound members, to all those who went caroling to help spread some Christmas cheer and deliver the cookies, and to all who helped with our Christmas pageant.
• To Miranda Seldon and Lilly Hanlin for directing our Christmas pageant once again this year, to those who supported them in making sure that all of the details came together, for Virginia Roush, and Terrye Laird for helping to sew costumes for the pageant, to Loanne Lark who provided much of the fabric and to all of the children who participated and helped to tell the story.
• To Doug Laird and Al Rumsch for preparing our grounds, for putting up all of our Christmas lights and for John Knutson for getting our outside Christmas tree.
• For Terrye Laird for watching out for all of our memorial plants and roses as the temperature went below freezing.
It takes a whole community joining together and offering what we can in order to provide all the extras that make the holiday services special.
Blessings and gratitude!
Don’t Miss Emmanuel’s Annual Parish Meeting & Potluck
Sunday, January 29th, 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Business will include:
• election of Vestry
• election of convention delegates
• discussion/affirmation of our 2017 budget
• state of the parish by Troy and Christy
• announcement of 2017 Senior Warden
• beginning of a new tradition: annual award for Christian service!
Join us for Fellowship & Great Food as we conduct the Business of the Parish
We are still looking for two leaders to serve on the Vestry and two to serve as Convention Delegates. If you would like more information or you are interested, please talk to Christy, Troy or any Vestry member. Thanks!
Just a Reminder
Annual Reports for 2016 are needed no later than January 24, 2017! Please send your annual report to Joni via email in an attached document to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions, please talk to Joni or Pastor Christy. Thank you!
Emmanuel Staff Comings and Goings
We are excited to welcome Lois Johnson to our preschool staff as our new assistant teacher in the older class. She is new to the Coos Bay/North area and comes with a willingness to substitute in our younger class as well. We are looking forward to the consistency that we hope she will provide. Lois took Irina’s place who resigned after finding out that she was pregnant and having her doctor recommend that she not spend so much time on her feet. Please keep Irina, her husband, and their baby in your prayers!
At the same time, we are disappointed to have to say goodbye to Joni Eades, our secretary since the end of September. Unfortunately, Joni and her husband’s needs have changed requiring her to have a full-time position. Her last day will be on January 31st. We have posted the position on Craigslist and are hopeful that we will be able to have a new secretary in place by the last week of January so that Joni will be able to do some training before she leaves. Please keep all of these transitions in your prayers and help us network letting us know of anyone who might be interested.
You are cordially invited to attend a Women’s Retreat at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
Sponsored by the Catholic Daughters of America
on Saturday – January 28, 2017
Several “sessions” and a free lunch will be provided.
Session topics range from frugal living, genealogy, tai chi,
Bible study, fellowship, crafts and much, much more!
Registrations forms are available outside the Undercroft.
For more information, please call 541-756-0633
Winter is Here
School closures, meeting cancellations, icy roads and unusual amounts of snow and winter storms have played havoc with the beginning of 2017. On Wednesday, January 4th I had intended to return to Coos Bay from Sisters in the early afternoon. Unfortunately, heavy snow and an avalanche that closed the passes made that impossible, so I returned on Thursday instead. We had over a foot of snow that night in Sisters and when I looked out at my car, Serenity, it became clear I wasn’t going anywhere, as it just wasn’t safe, and it wasn’t possible even if I had wanted to as the passes were closed!
Your safety is the most important thing so this is a good time to review our general snow policy that follows North Bend and Coos Bay Schools. If they are closed our office and scheduled meetings will also most likely be closed and cancelled. If they have a delayed start then we may or may not cancel the meetings and the office will most likely be open but the hours may need to be adjusted. Church on Sundays will not be cancelled and as long as there is at least one person present with the priest we will have Eucharist. If there is no clergy person available then we will have Morning Prayer. The most important thing is your safety, so please don’t go out when it doesn’t feel safe.