The Piper - May 2014

May 2014

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 Gratitude
 Is God Calling?
 The Back Page... Called to Community

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

Summertime, as we all know, is the time when random traffic problems intrude on our driving as crews take advantage of sunny weather to work on the roads. And though we may grump about it, we also remember the potholes, cracks and incipient slides that we noticed as we drove over those roadways in the winter. We don’t expect that we will eventually come to a summer without road construction; we accept (though often with bad grace) that deterioration, maintenance and repair are a constant.

So it is with our lives; so it is with our church.

We are people under construction. Remember the phrase “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet”? Although some of us have the life-stressing problem of perfectionism, we also know that perfection is attainable only in certain areas of our lives, and then only at a cost. One of our members opined to me recently that in the military, you are taught to avoid making any mistakes, because a mistake can get people killed. But we also know that the stress of that level of attentiveness can lead to some fairly severe problems with transitioning back to civilian life.

There is a subheading in theology called “theological anthropology.” That has to do with the theological study of the human being, of human nature, culture and meaning. Throughout history, Christianity in most of its forms has assumed that humans are on a path, but that path does not lead to perfection in this life. God chooses to see us as perfectly justified – i.e., worthy of salvation – but we remain subject to our self-centered nature, partly in tune with God, partly struggling against the life God has in mind for us.

The Church as an institution, and each congregation as an institution, is in the same boat. St. Andrew’s, of course, is included in this. We would all like to think of the Church as different from all other institutions, because it is divine, with Jesus Christ as head. In part, that is true. But it is also a human institution, and that means that we are subject to all the same things that any human institution is subject to, which includes sin. Religion is a paradoxical business. We have limitations, including the inability to understand what we are supposed to be doing all the time, and the inability to grasp the faith necessary to do it when we do understand. But we are also in partnership with a God without limits, who keeps patiently trying to help us listen to the Holy Spirit as he/she speaks to our hearts.

Small churches have particular difficulties related to their lack of money to do all the things they think need to be done; and 50% of Episcopal congregations now have an average Sunday attendance of 50 or less. Ours has gone from 50 to 40 over the last several years. We see things we need and want in order to do the work of Mission and to minister to the community around us in the name of Christ, but we also have to face the limitations of our funding and the number of people who have the gifts and the time to offer in this work.

It can be easy to get discouraged, to get fearful, to operate from an expectation of scarcity rather than believing that as we follow God, we experience God’s abundance. And we do have to be discerning in our use of our time, talents and treasure. We are aware that we can’t do everything, can’t pay for everything. But we also must believe that if we are working to follow God’s leading, God will provide everything we need (not necessarily everything we THINK we need).

Your Vestry and your Rector are trying from month to month to look at what we have and what we believe we need. We face the question of whether to “Build it and they will come,” or to wait for them to come so we can build it.

Construction and maintenance are a big part of our task. Sometimes we have to sit and wait while things are done, other times can rejoice over projects completed and in place. But there will never be a time when we are not under construction, as individuals, as a congregation, or as a people. Remember that we are a human institution, but we are also a divine institution. Whatever human failings and shortcomings we experience, maintenance and construction continue under the direction of the Holy Spirit. And remember that theological anthropology has the word “theological” in it as well as “anthropology.” Our study is not just about the human being, but about the human being as revealed in the light of God, our creator, redeemer and lover.

We need patience to be truly involved in anything worth doing. We also need hope and faith. Maintenance and construction will always be a part of our experience, but the joys of newly paved highways, newly filled potholes, newly widened roadways and newly repaired bridges will be a part of our travels with God and one another as well.

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Organ Rebuild Completed!

If you were listening to our organ on Sunday April 27, you were hearing a newly refurbished instrument. Preston Boomer and Bill Vischer spent a week struggling with the transition from a system of mechanical switches to a solid state system of printed circuit boards. The prior organ had more than a half a century of wear and tear from loving musicians and had gotten to the point that those old switches were no longer reliable in doing the job.

Boomer paid for this upgrade from his own pocket.

We are grateful for the time, talent and treasure expressed in this gift to our musical worship. We will be considering a way to do a dedication of this instrument in days to come. Stay tuned (pun intended)!

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Youth Group News

Summer is on the Way!
School may be almost out, but that doesn't mean Youth Group will be. Stay tuned for summer activities including Sunday School activities and possible weekly Youth Group meetings! Is there something you want to do? Let us know! See you soon!

And if anyone is interested in playing with fire, smoke, and big sticks (a.k.a. acolyting), see Father Blaine.

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Gratitude

Your newly reactivated and enthusiastic Stewardship Committee would like to express our deep gratitude to all of our St. Andrew’s members and friends who helped us achieve our goals for 2013. You helped keep our ministry alive through the six year economic downturn and we are most thankful!

Budget-wise, we are presently debt-free, and meeting our obligations to both the Diocese and our local community. We are pleased to actively sup-port the Valley Churches United Missions, Boulder Creek Elementary School Breakfast Program, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Food for the Poor, African Team Ministries, and the rebuilding of the Cathedral in Haiti. In addition, our members generously contribute to other special projects, and try to meet the individual needs of our members as they become known to us. Our Growth Plan worked so well that we hope to create a new one for the next five years. Thanks! To Ray Wentz and Committee.

Spiritually, we feel we have grown in our relationship and partnership with God, and ultimately with each other. That’s what makes St. Andrew’s so special. Your continued support is greatly needed, and always valued. Please join us in our endeavors, and seek us out if you have questions.

Gratefully,
Your Stewardship Committee
Jennifer Kennedy, Karen Von Groningen, Rochelle Kelly, Kim Rooks

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Day of Discovery

—> Do you feel God is calling you to serve, but not sure if it’s in the context of a lay ministry or an ordained one?
—> Or maybe you are certain about the fact that God is calling, but you’re not sure what you’re being called to do.
—> Maybe you know for sure you’re being called to be ordained, but not yet clear about whether it’s to the priesthood or the diaconate.
—> Are you clear about your calling, but don’t know where to begin the process?

For any of these questions, Day of Discovery is the answer.

WHO: Experience has shown that participants in our Commission on Ministry’s “Day of Discovery” come away having shared in a process of discernment which is rejuvenating, validating, and transforming.
WHAT: Renew your call to a particular ministry, or explore NEW ways of responding to God’s call
WHERE: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1071 Pajaro Street, Salinas, CA 93901
WHEN: Saturday, June 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (coffee and registration at 9:30 a.m.)
WHY: We pray that you find joy in discerning the “why?”

Pre-registration (by June 7, 2014) online to jrshreve@aol.com or at www.edecr.org will help us in preparing enough materials and ordering enough lunches for the participants. Thank you.

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It's the Man You Can't Keep Down! A miracle indeed!

A few months ago, Bill Hall was pinned under his tractor for a couple of hours before help came. The first miracle is that he was alive when medical folks got there. Then it was one amazing step after another toward recovery. He sustained several injuries, among which was a crushed pelvis. But God is good and Bill is resilient. Today he is in one piece (with the help of new metal parts) and while he will never pass security screenings, he is up on his feet and aiming for full independence.

Thank you, Lord, for keeping Bill with us and for the miraculous healing you have given him!

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Why I Am An Episcopalian: Reason #26:
Like Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Episcopalians are in touch with the ancient voices and aesthetic and spiritual practices of the Christian tradition. We are united by a common liturgy and by the Book of Common Prayer. And so long as we do the liturgy right, we are orthodox, and thus permitted a broad range of theological opinions. With its riches of liturgy, prayer, and music, it is for me a sacrament of the sacred, and it feels like home.

Marcus J. Borg, Diocese of Oregon
from 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian

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Bible Challenge

Come with us on a Pilgrimage of the heart!

Ever thought of taking a holy pilgrimage? Here’s one you can take from right here in the San Lorenzo Valley. Come on a journey through the Bible, a year-long reading adventure, with The Bible Challenge. Short meditations written by Anglican scholars from throughout the world accompany the daily readings. Our faith will be enlivened and expanded by a sustained encounter with God's Word. If you never thought you could read the whole Bible, The Bible Challenge is a wonderful way to embark on a holy pilgrimage joined by others from around the world! Recommended by Bishop Mary! We have a group meeting once a week at the church (Tuesdays, 6:30-7:30pm in the Parish Hall) and a group meeting online through Google Groups.

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Cindy Garay (May 2)
Cathy Newfield (May 3)
Moe Garray (May 3)
Preston Boomer (May 7)
Janet Parske (May 8)
Jaden Ruff (May 10)
Barry Holtzclaw (May 12)
Katie Garay (May 18)
Tim Cadell (May 21)
Michael Freeman (May 22)
Logan Hudson (May 26)
Mark de Haas-Johnson (May 29)
Corinna Stevenson (June 2)
Mario Landeros (June 5)
Ana Wooliscroft (June 8)
Karen Van Groningen (June 9)
Jamie Mello (June 10)
Sarah Townsend (June 11)
Sandi Templeman (June 17)
Joe Mello (June 18)
Roxanne Spring (June 21)
Lynn Mooney (June 22)
Duquan Ruff (June 25)
Cory Marello (June 26)

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The Back Page...

Called to Community - Deacon Jim Lieb

When I am giving directions to acolytes or Eucharistic Ministers who are helping me at the Altar, I say things like “Now we set the table” or “Now we wash the dishes”. These are things that servants do. The purpose of the office of the diaconate is to remind us that we are a community and a community cannot function for long if everybody expects to be fed but no one sets the table.

I first became interested in this ministry in 1981 when the deacon in our parish asked me if I might be interested in going to a retreat weekend at St. Dorothy's Rest put on by the School for Deacons. At that time, the diaconate as a separate order and not as a way-station to the priesthood was a new idea. Ordaining women was also a new idea. There was change afoot.

But why now? And what purpose would it serve? When the issue of women's ordination came up in the rest of the Anglican Communion, in the U.K. in particular, they started not from a position of equal rights but with a question: What would a woman bring to or subtract from the ministry of the priesthood? There had been “deaconesses” for ages but why the priesthood now? These are deep questions. There is the obvious point of women, always assumed to be servants (or worker bees), bringing something new and needed to presiding leadership that men have not brought to it. The same applies to men, anyone as servants. It seems to me that the whole idea of diaconate, the servant, is a response of the Spirit to big changes in the social contract, the agreement we all have about how we should live together.

When I was born, it would be another year before Truman ordered the end of segregation in the military. While I was in grade school, African Americans and women were pushing back and not accepting a retreat from the opportunities and freedoms they had during the war years. That came to a head when I was in high school when the old order started to crumble (somewhat) as those who were silent were now speaking up. The consequence has been that our society could not expect to run on enforced service like in the “good old days”. One reaction to that change has been that some have doubled down on returning in full flight to those more comfort-able (at least for them) days. The other response is to recognize that for us to live in a livable world, we must make a commitment to serve the needs of our community and serve each other. Times are continuing to be changing. Speaking of changing, I changed diapers from the start of my fatherhood, something my Dad never did and our sons simply assume as their part. Maybe that should have been a hint to me...

And now we wash the dishes.

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If you are interested in submitting an article in next month's newsletter, contact Elizabeth Forbes or Paula Jansen.