The Messenger March 2015
Christy’s Corner: Alive in the Neighborhood
What does it mean to be “Alive in our Neighborhood?” If we asked people we pass walking or driving by Emmanuel what they thought of our church, what do you think their response would be? If we asked people in the office buildings nearby, or those who live in the houses or apartments near us, what would they say? How about employees of The World or City Subs? Are we perceived as being a church that is “alive?”
These thoughts are all dancing in my head lately since attending a workshop last weekend called “Alive in the Neighborhood” that was conducted by a church consulting group called Leaders For Mission, founded by good friends and long-time mentors of mine in the Vancouver/Portland area. The workshop began with a description of two different experiences of clergy walking side by side from a church in downtown Portland to a lunch restaurant about 10 minutes away. One was focused more on getting to the restaurant and eating the ribs rather than anything else. When passing individuals, he would give a polite Northwest nod of acknowledgement and keep on moving down the street. The other stopped often to engage the people she met, asking about their lives and checking in. She had to stop by at the library and used that as an opportunity to interact with some of the staff and volunteers as well. Her lunch partner’s mouth was salivating as he wondered if they would ever get to those tasty ribs!
Another story for reflection was about a man who watched every morning as his neighbor opened up his small shop. The shop owner would go through the same routine every day, including going outside and sweeping his front entrance. The man was a new Christian and was looking for ways he might be able to help his neighbor. One day he offered to sweep the entrance for him. Then he did it the next day, and after a week he told the man, “Why don’t you just let me do this for you?” He found that it gave him great joy to help his neighbor in this way. After several months the neighbor came to the man and asked him, “Why are you doing this for me?” The man genuinely answered, “It gives me great joy to help you in this small way.” They began to get together more often and a relationship developed that was life changing for both of them. The man offered a simple gesture to
his neighbor and God transformed the situation.
Key learnings and thoughts from this workshop included:
– every contact we have has the promise of becoming a relationship
– acting out of God’s love is faithful and life-changing no matter what response it receives
– neighborhood can describe any group of people with some connection to each other
At Emmanuel and as residents in our various neighborhoods, how might we be more alive in our neighborhoods?
February 18th was Ash Wednesday and this year we joined the local Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists in offering “Ashes to Go.” Part of a national movement (check out www.ashestogo.org), we offered ashes on the street corner of Commercial and 4th, at Pony Village, the Coos Bay Library, the North Bend Food Cupboard, the chapel downtown and at Davey Jones in Charleston because it was a tangible reminder of God’s love: forgiveness and healing shouldn’t be confined to a church building. We probably need it more when we are in the middle of our daily business and routine! The ashes that were received were just like the ones we gave out at church that day, and were meant to remind folks of their need for God, and of God’s love and forgiveness for them.
According to Sara Miles in City of God, “God’s blessing is everywhere. And so paying attention outside of church buildings—as well as paying attention inside church buildings—becomes a way to see more of God from different angles, uncovering more meanings. Whether in the midst of a literal city, or in the suburbs, or on a lonely mountainside, worship outside of church buildings allows a glimpse of the world, the whole world transformed.” (City of God, pg. 68)
Her main point and the point of “Ashes to Go” is that we aren’t bringing church or God to the streets, “We’re simply witnessing to the reality that Church is already there. The people are God’s people. They are already living in the holy city of God. They’re out in the streets, encountering Jesus, Mary, saints, demons, angels, themselves, and one another—sometimes a lot more intensely than is comfortable. They’re out there praying, sinning, repenting, blessing, being baptized into the muddy river of new life. They’re not waiting for missionaries with the correct theology to save them. God is saving them, and, God willing, will save me, too, from my own pretensions, and keep on forging us into members of one body, for the common good” (City of God, pg. 80.)
As I took ashes to several places throughout the city, I met God in the people I marked with ashes. To each one I offered the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Similarly, I met God when I said the same words and marked many of you with ashes in church. I was transformed by both experiences and I hope others were too. Even if I never see the folks that I met on the streets again it is the beginning of a relationship that recognizes that God is alive in our neighborhoods and perhaps inviting us to join God in ministry there.
How might God be inviting us to be more alive in our neighborhoods? What are some tangible ways we might reach out to our neighbors like the man who swept the entrance of his neighbor’s business? Is it really possible for us to offer a relationship to our neighbors without expecting anything in return? These are all ideas that I’m reflecting on for Lent and I look forward to hearing your ideas as well as we continue to journey together this Lenten season.
Blessings for a Holy Lent!
Notes from Your Vestry
The vestry met immediately following the annual meeting, opened with Pastor Christy’s prayer for the newly elected.
We welcomed newly elected members: Carla Courtney, Pat Cross, Nancylee Stewart, John Gibson, John Knutson and David Laird. We affirmed Troy Cribbins as senior warden. John Knutson was elected junior warden, Bob Huggins was confirmed as treasurer, and Sally Jaeggli was elected clerk.
By consensus, meetings will continue to be the third Tuesday evening of each month. The next meeting, due to scheduling conflicts, will be our retreat. It will be Friday evening, March 6 at the church, for retired 2014 and 2015 vestry members, and continuing Saturday March 7 all day at the McKeown cabin, for the 2015 vestry. We look forward to hearing a report from Carla Courtney, Suzanne Fischer, Pat Cross, Troy Cribbins, and Pastor Christy on the “Equipping the Saints” workshop held in Ashland this past weekend.
At the vestry retreat, we will be working on the “doing” part our Mutual Ministry goals, hospitality, inclusiveness and relationship. I think we are all very excited about this. The leadership circles around each goal are going to widen, and as the song goes, “All of God’s children have a place in the choir!”
Finally, Bishop Michael Hanley will be at Emmanuel on April 12th (6 weeks from now) for his annual visitation. I know that’s ‘low Sunday,’ also known as the First Sunday After Easter. It will be a grand and glorious service, as always! Let’s fill the pews!
Confirmation: Bishop Michael will be here on April 12th, the Sunday after Easter for his regular visitation. During his time with us he will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation with Reception and the Reaffirmation of our Baptismal Vows. Confirmation is the Episcopal Church’s way for individuals of any age who were baptized as infants to make an adult affirmation of their faith and commitment to their baptismal vows along with the laying on of hands by the Bishop. Reception is the process where people confirmed in another faith tradition can be received into the Episcopal Church and Reaffirmation is the opportunity to reaffirm one’s commitment to their baptismal covenant.
We will be offering classes for those interested sometime during March and April. Please let Christy know if you, or a family member are interested. Over the next couple of weeks we will be attempting to figure out whether a weekly session or a longer retreat type session will work best for the preparation classes. Your ideas about what will work best for you and your family are welcome! Talk to Christy.
A Note from Peils
Bob and I would like to express our appreciation for your prayers and thoughtfulness. It means so much to us to have your support as we face the days ahead. Bob has emphysema and the beginnings of congestive heart failure. This is complicated by a pressure wound on his foot. He is most comfortable in our own home and that is how we plan to continue. Bob looks forward with joyful anticipation to the day when he sees our Lord face to face.
Please continue to remember us in your prayers. Arlene
It’s Not Too Late to Join… “Steadfast Hope”
A project of the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and developed to help Episcopalians understand the “facts on the ground.”
The discussion sessions will begin in March and there will be two options: Sundays from 2:00-4:00 PM and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 PM. There is still time to sign-up; the books are available for $10. Please let us know which session you will plan to attend.
We will basically be following the suggested outline in Steadfast Hope pg. 47 for the 6 weeks. Remember that the purpose is to engage the material in order to increase our understanding of the Palestinian Christian’s Quest for Just Peace.
Light refreshments, coffee and tea will be served at the weekly sessions and we will plan to start and end right on time. If you have any questions, please see Nancylee Stewart, Pam Chaney, Terrye Laird, or Pastor Christy.
On Sunday, March 29th, 1:00-3:30 PM, we will conclude the sessions with another soup lunch and with the Rev. Dick Toll returning to wrap up our time together.
Diocesan Outreach Project – Educate for Hope
In the Occupied West Bank of Palestine, the people in the Christian village of Zebabdeh struggle to hold on to their land and provide opportunity and education for their children. Even though many Christians have left the region, those who remain strive to pass on the traditions of Christian life and community to the next generation. Educate for Hope provides scholarships for children who are members of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Zababdeh, Palestine making it possible for the children to attend the Latin-Patriarch school that is next door to their church. The school provides classes in English and Hebrew to Arabic-speaking children in order to give them a broader foundation in the languages of regional commerce. Funds raised in the Diocese of Oregon will also provide much- needed supplies for St. Matthew’s Sunday School program.
At Emmanuel, we will be doing several different events during Lent and Holy Week to help raise money for Educate for Hope culminating on Good Friday 2015, the traditional time for the church to support the Diocese of Jerusalem. Watch for details. To donate, checks should be made to Emmanuel Episcopal Church with Educate for Hope in the memo line. If you wish to donate online go to the Diocesan website, www.diocese- oregon.org and look for “Educate for Hope.”
Help us provide hope to the children of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Zababdeh, Palestine by providing scholarship for them to attend the Latin-Patriarch School next door to the church.
Coffee Hour is an important extension of our Sunday service. It is a time to meet and greet new visitors and keep in touch with each other. Please plan to contribute a Sunday or two. It doesn’t need to be extravagant. Sign Up sheets are located on the counter in the Undercroft.
Daylight Savings time begins on Sunday, March 8. Be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour. Otherwise you may be an hour late for church.
Need a great Easter gift for a child?? Try: Love Letters from God
by Glenys Nellist
Little kids love getting mail and now they can receive their own mail from
God with this interactive book! Featuring 9 stories from the Old Testament and 9 stories from the New Testament, every story offers a lift-the-flap for kids to open up and discover the important lesson about that story that God wants to give them in his love letter to you. Recommended for ages 4 to 9.
Beautifully written, and full of the Message of God’s Love for each of us, both Pastor Christy and Teacher Julianna highly recommend this book. Christy reads it to the preschooler’s on Wednesdays and they adore it.
Happy Saint patrick’S Day ~ MarcH 17th
Did you know?
WE SHOULD REALLY WEAR BLUE – Saint Patrick himself would have to deal with pinching on his feast day. His color was “Saint Patrick’s blue,” a light shade. The color green only became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.
THERE’S A REASON FOR THE SHAMROCKS – How did the shamrock become associated with Saint Patrick? According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.
SAINT PATRICK WAS BRITISH – Although he made his mark by introducing Christianity to Ireland in the year 432, Patrick wasn’t Irish himself. He was born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in the late fourth century.
THE IRISH TAKE SAINT PATRICK’S DAY SERIOUSLY – As you might expect, Saint Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in his old stomping grounds. It’s a national holiday in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
SO DO NEW YORKERS – New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the world’s largest parades. Since 1762, 250,000 marchers have traipsed up Fifth Avenue on foot – the parade still doesn’t allow floats, cars, or other modern trappings.
Are You a Sports Fan? Are you looking for something new and exciting to do to connect with Lent? Check out: Lent Madness
Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Tim came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential” which has subsequently moved locations and become the more stream-lined “Clergy Confidential.”
The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.
The major change from 2010 to 2011 was the introduction of four “celebrity bloggers” to champion particular saints through the Final Four. In 2012 we partnered with Forward Movement and Executive Director Scott Gunn to create our own website and broaden the number of people involved in the writing process, with Tim and Scott serving as the self-appointed Supreme Executive Committee.
As Lent Madness continues to grow and evolve, what won’t change is the essence of Lent Madness: allowing people to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith and reminding one another that there’s no reason for a dreary Lenten discipline. If this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it continues to be worthwhile.
We hope you’ll participate fully this Lent and vote with reckless abandon! (Once — this isn’t Chicago). Sound intriguing????
Go to www.lentmadness.org for more information and to get started.
From the Desk of Anne Abdy
I realize that I am a little over half-way through the semester and I am still holding up with all the demands of this very busy semester. I wonder why that is?
Maybe what has grounded me is my intentional devotional and prayer time, or the ice, snow, and freezing single digits have kept my head down and buried in books or staring at the computer screen. But somehow, there has been a peace and calm about me that has helped me not stray into the panic of the overwhelming list assignments. I suspect the prayers from the folks at Emmanuel have a lot to do with that.
I find that time management skills are key to determining what needs to be done and so as a list-maker I enjoy checking off the boxes. I find that I am taking manageable bites out of future
assignments while contemplating the assignment in front of me. Up till now, most of the assignments have been reading, an odd test or paper, or sermons dotted here and there. Right now, the season of mid-terms is upon me and the craziness of March begins with the end in sight–May 1, otherwise known as the last day of classes.
So as I turn to face the last half of the semester, I ponder how I have been shaped and formed by seminary life. Bishop J. Neil Alexander, Dean of the Seminary, led our Quiet Day on Ash Wednesday. Below are some quotes from the day to contemplate.
“Identify the five “go-to books” that feed you and you would take to a desert island.”
“Self discovery is not looking back but rather looking to a more full future.”
“The way has not opened before me but many doors have shut behind me.”
“Repentance is not fixing the past but fixing the future.”
“Repentance is running out to the Lord.”
“Doing good and being busy is not good in God’s eyes if you ignore your first love.”
“Those who have fallen out of love, fell out of love because they were too busy and disconnect from their first love.” “We cannot forget the who and the what of why we are in seminary.” (Substitute seminary for a word of your choice.)
Lent is a time for personal reflection, piety, then repentance and forgiveness as we approach the joy of Easter. I wish you all a Holy Lent.