November 2014

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 Paula's Story. Our Story. God's Story.
 An Act of Prayer
 The Back Page... Called

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

How would you define the following words: “religion,” “Church,” “Christianity”? To many of us the answer may seem self-evident, but if pushed we will pull out the aspect of each word that means the most to us. It is when we ask if there might be other aspects, other ways of looking at it, other kinds of self-evident answers for other people, that we enter into some areas of theology that are usually safely between the covers of books or behind the classroom doors of universities and seminaries.

The problem is, those expanded ways of thinking about things are very important if we are to understand ourselves, our history, each other, differences between religions and denominations, and even the differences between ourselves and those who are either beside us in the pews or in bed reading the funny papers. In our experiences as peoples, as members of religious traditions, as members of different cultures and language groups, we are brought up in belief systems, in traditional ways of thinking about and looking at things. That is, everyone has a theology, though I think most of us don’t realize that we are carrying that around packaged in our sets of expectations and presumptions.

Most professional clergy, and some members of ministries and traditions which do not ordain their ministers, are trained in at least some kind of formal theology. For many of us who went to seminary, there was an expectation that we would graduate as professional theologians. But when we enter into parish ministry, we tend to discover, soon-er or later, that the laity is not looking for someone to preach and practice professional theology. Different clergy make different adjustments to that reality. Some retreat into academia, some resign their positions and go back to lay work, some try manfully – or womanfully – to convince the laity that they want professional theologians after all, and some stop trying to give people anything more than what they think the people want.

Some of this is sad, some of it tragic, some of it hopeful, and some of it silly. If people want to learn classic theology, they can find many ways to study classic theology. If clergy would recognize that people are already practicing some form of theology, they would start there and work on what is useful, what will build up the body of Christ.

Obviously, I have a few feelings about the way the Church does, and has done, preparation of clergy to minister.
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Bill Maher, the talk show host and comedian, is a theologian, though he would probably be surprised to find himself described as such. His “theological statement” is that God does not and cannot exist; therefore, anyone who believes in God is foolish and anyone who acts on that belief is deluded. This is not unprecedented. Freud speculated that religious people are probably delusional, though he had fun writing about the Bible. Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao had similar viewpoints about religion. All of them, including Maher, thought of it as dangerous.

So back to our question: How do you define those words? Let’s begin with the notion that your definition will depend on your current perspective. As a person brought up in western Christianity or Judaism, you might respond that religion is some form of belief in God. If you were brought up in Asia, or if you are more knowledgeable than the average member of society, you might realize that most Buddhists do not have be-lief in God as a doctrine, yet we call Buddhism a religion. So there we get our first little disturbance in the world of preconceptions.

Let’s say you are a sociologist writing about religion. Your first task will be to define what you are talking about. In her book A Sociology of Religion: Classical and Contemporary Approaches (AHM Publishing Corporation, Arlington Heights, IL 1979) Barbara Hargrove devotes an entire chapter to the subject of “A Definition of Religion.” She notes that Sociology has a particular perspective, a particular function in the scientific realm, but then argues that this does not mean that they can have that sole focus in determining how to come up with a definition. She goes on into an ever-more-difficult fluidity of thought, subject and language be-fore coming up with:

Religion is a human phenomenon that functions to unite cultural, social, and personality systems into a meaningful whole. Its components generally include (1) a community of believers who share (2) a common myth that interprets the abstractions of cultural values into historic reality through (3) ritual behavior, which makes possible personal participation in (4) a dimension of experience recognized as encompassing something more than everyday reality – the holy. These elements are united into recognizable structures that undergo processes of change, development, and deterioration. (p. 12)

Whether or not any of us can relate with that, all of it is necessary for her to be able to discuss religion from her perspective. And lest we think that Dr. Hargrove was an ivory tower academic, she spent 25 years as a farm wife before becoming a widow and returning to school for her doctorate. I have fond memories of seeing her ride her three-speed bicycle with the basket on the front to seminary to teach.

Psychologists, mystics and social workers will likewise want to take on a definition from the perspective of their own experience and practice and the needs of their disciplines. All of these definitions will be different. What about you? You have a theological perspective too. What would you say, given your experience, your needs, your beliefs, is a working definition of Religion, of Church, of Christianity? Those of course are only starting points. But maybe you could send your answers to Paula or Elizabeth for the rest of us to read in these pages in up-coming issues. I would love to see what you think.

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We get letters… October 12, 2014

Dear friends,

I wanted to thank you for your warm welcome when I visited you and for your offering of $177.00 to my discretionary fund. Thank you so much for sharing with me in meeting the needs of those locally and afar, in times of emergency and also when there is need of support for a new ministry for which there are no other resources. I am truly grateful for your presence and ministry, and that together we are working for God's kingdom!

Blessings of peace and grace,
Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop, El Camino Real

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Harvest Dinner Post Script:

A BIG thank you to all of you who made the Harvest Dinner such a fun evening! It was a combination of celebrating the Giants game, eating good food, celebrating another year at St. Andrews, and listening to an inspirational speaker, Rev. Mary Lou McKenna, who shared her faith journey with us.

My gratitude goes to the Stewardship Committee especially, for sharing this daunting task of planning, & carrying out this special gathering. ….to Karen and Kim for grocery shopping; to Rochelle, Donna, Tillie, and Randi for decorating the room and tables, hosting and cooking as well; to our other chefs Elizabeth, Lynn, Shirley, Cindy, and Charise; to Paul and Jerry for setting up those heavy tables & chairs, and to all of you who helped to clean up, carry-in & out, and just being a part of our great fellowship. We were especially glad to see Father Blaine back, and even though in shoulder harness, is in good spirits and on the mend.

As the Thanksgiving season arrives, may we all be mindful of our part in carrying on the fellowship and ministry of St. Andrews. There are so many worthy causes to which we are asked to support at this time of year. So, I pray that those of you who have been a part of St. Andrew’s ministry & fellowship, both now and historically, will be led to remember us during this “giving” season, and into the New Year. May you be blessed richly for your joyful generosity and obedience to God’s direction.

Gratefully,
Your Stewardship Committee: Jennifer, Karen, Kim & Rochelle

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Children and Youth Group News

Sunday School: Sunday School is every week for ages 4-18 during the 10am service. Children (grades pre-K through 5th) and youth (grades 6-12) are to meet in the Parish Hall at 10am. They will re-join their families during announcements for communion.

Teachers: If you are interested in joining our team, just talk with Teresa Ruff and she can add you to the schedule. Our teachers do just one Sunday a month.

We have child care! A huge thank-you to Amelia (one of the St. Andrew's Preschool teachers) who will be providing child care to children under 5 during the 10am service.

C.I.A. Youth Group Hosts All-Church Breakfast: First Sunday of the month. Youth will meet at 8:30am to set-up and start cooking. Breakfast will be served between 9:15am-10am. Donations accepted to help with food costs.

Kirking of the Tartans: November 22nd
This is a fundraiser for Valley Churches United Missions. It begins with a church service at 6 pm which includes a bagpiper and where tartans are blessed. After the service, we have a dinner and Scottish dancing. The Youth have been asked to help serve at this dinner and we need at least three of you to carry flags into the church service.

Christmas Bazaar: December 11th-14th
We will be asking Parish members and youth to donate cookies, candy, crafts, knits etc. We will sell these and the income will go to the SLV High School Band. We have about 5 past and current Youth Group members in the band and they will be going to Seattle in April to perform in a music festival

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Paula's Story. Our Story. God's Story.

Thinking back to the earliest memories of God in my life...I was a very small child, maybe two or three years old. What I remember is saying my prayers, “Now I lay me down to sleep….”. Forward to middle school, where I was faced with hard choices and listening to what God was telling me. So I’ve had a sense of God in my life from a very young age, and as I grew the sense became stronger. Unfortunately I didn’t listen so well to what God said during those years. Some of the choices make me sad to this day. Rather than regretting the past though, I try to remember that God uses my wrongs to make rights and that I’ve been forgiven for my sins (the whole list of them). I would talk to Him and listen (sometimes).

I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. A couple of friends went to the Presbyterian church near our home and they invited me to join them. I loved going to that church. It was large church with an outstanding youth program (and some very cute boys).

I moved to California when I was twenty and one of the things I left behind was my church, which I missed. Even though I tried different churches from time to time, none felt right. It took me more than thirty years to finally find St. Andrew’s. During that time a neighbor invited me to Bible Study Fellowship, a worldwide non-denominational Bible study. This was where I learned about Jesus and accepted His gift of salvation. I’d heard a speaker on the radio say that a person couldn’t be on the fence about Jesus. Either you believed He was who he said he was, or you didn’t. There it was, I believed. I was 35 years old. For all the joy I felt at my new relationship with the Lord, there was real turmoil at home. That was May of 1995 and although I didn’t tell my husband, an absolute non-believer, it must have been obvious because pretty soon he was sure that my becoming a Christian was the beginning of the end of our marriage. He was wrong-we’re still married.

He’s still a non-believer so imagine how I felt, when two years ago as I was writing in my journal one morning, chatting with Jesus as I wrote, and I heard Him say "Priest". I thought I'd heard wrong at first. A few days later I heard it again. The third time I heard it I asked, "What? Am I hearing you saying you want me to be a priest?" The answer was, "Yes."
After trying to figure this out on my own, I said, "What should I do?" It turns out there is quite a list of things a person needs to do in order to become a priest in the Episcopal church. A person believing they hear a call to the priesthood needs to check out that call with their priest, their parish, the Bishop, the diocese – several times throughout the formation period. Meanwhile, they would be preparing academically at seminary. In order to be accepted to seminary a person needs to have a bachelor’s degree. I had earned a lot of credits, but no degree. So I am back in college, taking serious academic classes.

When my husband feels like he's completely shut out of my life because of all this, I pray like crazy, "Your will be done". Somehow he calms down and I'm back doing my homework, realizing that we made it through another crisis by the Grace of God. That is the only way to make it through anything at all, by the Grace of God. Even though I'm taking the classes and learning a lot, I only know a few things for sure. God created this world and us in it. He loves us beyond anything we can imagine. He can and does do miracles all the time. If He has a plan, He will see it happen. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Paula Jansen

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An Act of Prayer & An Unlikely Friday Night Pizza Café

At Moriah Pie in Norwood, Ohio, Erin and Robert Lockridge serve homemade pizza and diners pay what they can. Here's what might have sounded like a pretty shaky business plan for a neighbor-hood pizza café: "We'll only be open one day a week. Won't do any advertising. No prices on the menus. We'll serve mostly what we grow in the garden – and no pepperoni. And we'll look on this work as an 'experiment of faith.'"

That's what Erin and Robert Lockridge said two years ago, when they decided to open a pizza place called Moriah Pie in Norwood, a small town part of greater Cincinnati. Erin and Robert Lockridge own Moriah Pie. The better days in Norwood, an old neighborhood of two-story houses with porches, came to a close in 1989 when the Chevrolet plant shut down. But an empty, dusty café was waiting on a street corner, and the Lockridges decided to start making pizzas there.

These two shared an interest in urban farming and had been working together in Norwood. Robert was what he calls a "parish farmer" sponsored by a church. On their honeymoon, driving from Nova Scotia to Maine, they talked about what might come next. "We stopped at ... Eastport and we camped that night, and the next morning went to a very local diner," recalls Erin. It was a busy place. And in that Maine diner, the newly married Ohio couple could see their path ahead. "We watched all the locals come in and get their breakfast and we watched the way that the waitress behind the counter tended to all these people," Erin says, "And it was really beautiful to watch her 'cause she was very aware of everybody there. She was almost like a pastor to them."

No prices are set at Moriah Pie. At the end of the meal customers get a cloth envelope to leave whatever payment they would like. Could they open a diner in Norwood? No, but there was that lonely café, just down the street from their house. What about pizza and what about just one night a week?

"Everybody loves pizza," says Robert, "And we can be creative with the pizza. There are fruit trees — a lot of people don't want that fruit so we can make fruit pies. Imagination started to come together at that point." Fruit pies and carrot cake. A spicy shredded cabbage salad. Pizza by the slice. Iced tea. You could bring your own beer and wine. The Lockridges were looking at taking on the challenge of making great food, keeping it local and making enough money.

"We wanted to grow the food ourselves, because we find that to be an act of prayer, an act of making sense in a world that sometimes doesn't make sense. It involves our bodies and it grounds us in a good way," says Robert. Robert and Erin are 34 and both did graduate work in Christian studies. Before the café, they already had five big gardens around the neighborhood. With the café, they especially wanted to cook for the older Norwood families, who'd been there for generations. "We're here every day and we're walking up and down the street, 20 times a day sometimes with crates of tomatoes and sometimes with wheelbarrows and sometimes with plates of food," says Erin. "People see us and they see that we work hard and they are hard-working people as well, and they've started to come through the door of the café and eat the pizza even if they would prefer to have pizza with meat."

On Fridays, their café becomes Moriah Pie. They start serving at 4:30 p.m. and it's now been open for 100 Friday nights. Robert preps the pizza toppings, Erin's job is the whipped cream for the mulberry pie, greeting everyone and taking the orders from the servers. She also collects the money, which can be iffy: No prices are set at Moriah and at the end of the meal customers get a cloth envelope. They can put in what they like, or as some do, put in change or nothing.

There are only a few signs that the café has a purpose beyond pizza. In the kitchen just before opening, Robert gathers the Moriah staff for a prayer. On a win-dowsill out in the dining room there's a bible and a prayer book. Nathan Myers is at Moriah Pie most Fridays, with his young family. "We were just enfolded into the community. We're interested in urban poverty and racial reconciliation and so this community has provided that opportunity for us to find those relationships," he says.

At Moriah Pie you'll see young families, older couples. Most everyone is from right in the neighborhood. And kids, sitting at tables with no parents, just oth-er kids. Erin loves the interaction, it's what she'd hoped for. She believes other peo-ple have other stories and all should be welcome. They usually come later, as the evening darkens. "We have had people come in who are drunk," says Erin. "One time a man came in who was clearly drunk and he was carrying a chain saw trying to sell it to us. And I think it made some people a little uncomfortable but as long as he was not causing a scene or being inappropriate, I'm not going to ask him to leave."

The café closes at 9:30 p.m. Erin and Robert have a lot of cleanup work. Sometimes, Erin says, when you get tired at the cafe you can start feeling insignificant and hidden. "We have worked our butts off all week and all year to grow this food," says Erin. "We get up early; Robert is out sometimes at 4:30, five o'clock in the morning to water the crops so they don't die in the heat of the summer. And nobody's thinking of that when they're eating the pizza or when they're taking a stack of pizzas home for their boyfriend who won't come because he's high."

Yet, she also writes in an email, "It is after midnight when we leave. We touch each other's backs as we walk home, buoyed by the music of crickets and the thought of splitting a cold beer. We are quiet; we are thankful." Erin and Robert have found they can make a living from their work on Fridays. They rent the café and pay their help. They own their house, share a car with a neighbor and take vacations. The unlikely pizza café business plan we mentioned earlier? It actually works. Excerpted from a Weekend Edition article by Noah Adams, NPR Radio

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a word from our deacon...

Everybody has heard by now that I attend the Church of the Holy Steam on second Sundays. As you can see, Episcopalians are not the only ones who like to get into processions. But one of the nice things about this church is on one Sunday in the month, I get to be at the front of the line. The club track is in Tilden Park on Grizzly Peak Road in Berkeley/Oakland. They are a great bunch, a community of friends who have known each other for a long time and love to provide this service to the public every Sunday. At our Sunday instruction, the 4 to 8 year old children, a key demographic, discuss Thomas and Percy. Something else Anglicans seem to do a lot.

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Pastoral Care: the church is more than a building

If you have ever had someone call on you when you were in need, or had someone not do so, you know how important this can be. Some-times folks are not able to get to church, even though they would like to. But we are the church and we can go to them. This may involve a get well note, a phone contact, a personal visit, an anointing with oil with prayers for healing, or taking Holy Communion to a person’s home or to the hospital.

You could sign up for any or all of the above ministries. You may want to do this frequently or only once a month. Or only go on hospital visits, or phone calls only. You define your ministry as the Spirit has gift-ed you and called you. If you would like to participate in this simple but meaningful ministry, please contact Elizabeth Forbes. It takes being intentional to be the hands and feet of Christ.

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Pat Whitby-Strevens (November 2)
Ben Rooks (November 11)
Randi Alves (November 15)
Chris Nelson (November 23)
Connie Free adoption day (December 17)
Kathryn Free (December 20)
Don Alves (December 23)
Carol Free (December 25)

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The Back Page...

Stewardship: taking care of something that belongs to someone else - Elizabeth Forbes

All we have is God’s; we just manage it. How often have I heard that, thought that, and figured I knew what it meant? So many times that not only the phrase, but the concept, has little practical meaning. This distresses me. My theology says everything is God’s, including what the world considers mine. My logical mind affirms it. Even my emotions agree. But in practical terms, it’s hard to know what it means.

What is God saying to me? To any of us? Blaine and I have tithed our income (given 10%), as that is what we were taught in the first churches we attended together. But there have been times when taking out 10% wasn’t possible because the 90% left didn’t stretch far enough for the basic necessities. And this is true for many people. In that circumstance we prayed and gave what we felt God was directing us to give.

In our busy lives today, has this also become true of our time and talent? If we give it to God, is there enough left to cover what we have come to consider the basic necessities? And what does it mean to give time and talent to God?

Another issue is that I’m pretty sure I have come to think of the 90% as mine, not God’s. Or that mine and God’s are somehow synonymous. What could change my thinking from ‘mine’ to ‘not mine’? I wandered around cyberspace and found something there that I decided to try.

The author, Jamie Coats, uses this exercise (from Our Money Life, by David Fisher). He invites us to join him in reflecting on the following questions:

 How do my time, talent and treasure influence how I live out my Baptismal Covenant?
 What role do my time, talent, and treasure play in my relationships, behaviors, and decisions? Consider this question in terms of your religious/spiritual life, your home life, work life, community life, and leisure life.

Then ask: Am I in charge of what I have or is what I have in charge of me?

You can find Jamie Coats at wingedboots.com

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