February 2015

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 The Deacon's Bench
 The Lenten Pretzel
 The Back Page...

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

We tried an experiment this year, and I’ll have to think about how it worked. We had our one worship service before the Annual Meeting at 9:00 a.m. instead of 10:00 so that we could finish up earlier.
So let’s look at the results: despite our attempts to get the word out, a fair selection of members showed up for 10:00 services. Obviously, some-thing in the process didn’t achieve the purpose. On the other end, even though we did have the desired effect of an earlier start and finish to the An-nual Meeting, a large number of people had to leave before the meeting was over.
So did the experiment succeed? I don’t know! We’ll have to talk about it some more.
But if you were at the meeting, and a great many of you were – at least for a while – you would say, I think, that it was a success. We heard many good things about our Parish’s programs, we had good news about our budget, we have a new Vestry, and we have a full complement of Delegates and Alternate Delegates for this year’s convention.
One of the things I had to say was that I have a good feeling about where we are right now as a Parish. There has been a sense for several years that we have been shrinking, both in numbers and in money. But that wasn’t the whole story. The people we have are people who feel that we are not just Episcopalians, we are St. Andrew’s Episcopalians. People who come in and see us at worship, at play, or in action see a family in God that wants to be a part of this parish family and its presence in the San Lorenzo Valley. We are becoming more and more committed to the process of growing together as a community in Christ, and we have among us now people who have walked in the door and have not wanted to leave.
The people of St. Andrew’s have also been faithful about supporting the congregation with their time, talent and treasure. We were counting nick-els toward the end of the year, but ended with a surplus thanks to the generosi-ty and commitment of all of us, and we start this year with a bank balance and a smaller “faith” line item, by far, than we had expected.
It’s too bad more people don’t know about us.
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Let’s take a look ahead. Our new Vestry will include returning mem-bers Paul Balch, Ray Wentz, Gina Carling, Jennifer Kennedy and Tillie Cum-mingham. Jerry Fishel, Randi Alves and Elizabeth Forbes rotate off the Ves-try this year. The returning members will be joined by new members Susi Vallderuten, Teresa Ruff and Barbara Banke. Paul will be continuing as Sen-ior Warden, and Ray will replace Jerry Fishel as Junior Warden. Other areas of focus will be determined at the Vestry Retreat, which will take place in sev-eral weeks.
Our Convention Delegates will be Barry Holtzclaw and Donna Brough, and Alternate Delegates will be Tillie Gunningham and Judyth Suttle. We did not have a volunteer to be the Vestry Clerk for the coming year, and we could still use one. Is someone out there hearing the Holy Spirit’s sugges-tion that they take on this ministry?
Last year’s Vestry was very active and we look forward to the new one being that active also, though of course as it is a different grouping of peo-ple, it will have its own character and personality. One thing has not changed: Vestry members count on other members of the congregation to pitch in and help where and when necessary. St. Andrew’s members have always been good at this.
Several things were mentioned as needs for special monetary dona-tions. First is a sound system, for which we believe $1,400 is a ballpark fig-ure. A fair amount of work has already been done on what to buy and how it will be used, and we already have some donations for this. Second is resurfac-ing the parking lot, which it is estimated will run about $2,700. We have had a number of temporary patches done, for which we can thank several of our committed members, but they will not last forever. We need a full-scale resur-facing. Third is the condition of the furnaces in the Parish Hall. One dates to the 50s and its useful life is just about over. Envelopes for each of these pur-poses are in Sharon’s office. If you give cash, make sure we know where it comes from so you can be properly credited.
I am due for a sabbatical this year. I plan to take it from mid-June to early September. I want to do some writing about the ministry of the small church, and I hope to visit some small churches in several other dioceses as a part of that process. Our smaller churches are now a majority of the congregations in the Episcopal Church, and I think we get too little respect and a lot of misunder-standing about our place in the larger Church. I hope to address those things. To be clear, I also have a month of vacation; a sabbatical is restful but not a vacation.
This will be my last sabbatical, as I will be required to retire (please note both the alliteration and the rhyme) before another five years are up. I am looking forward to both the time and the task, and thank you for making it available in my Letter of Ministry Agreement.
How do you define the Church? You could do worse than to simply write a description of St. Andrew’s, its ministries and activ-ities, its community, and its determination to grow and live in love of Christ and one another. If not a definition, it would at least be an example of what we mean when we use the word.

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Why I Am An Episcopalian: Reason #33

Episcopalians try to love with the heart of Christ, think with the mind of Christ, and act as if we were the body of Christ. - Prof. Willis H. A. Moore, Diocese of Hawaii, from 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian

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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.

C.I.A. Youth Group on Facebook
The youth group now has a Facebook group page which will list events, discussions, and other information. This is a CLOSED group, so you must be added by Teresa in order to be a part of it. If you would like to be added, let Teresa know at Sunday School and she will add you. We will be posting events, photos, and everyone is welcome to add their own photos and messages.

Ski Trip
What an amazing time! There wasn't as much snow as we had hoped, but there was enough to have a great experience. We had a few first-timers out there. We have already booked Camp Sylvester for next year and hopefully we can raise enough money this year to have it fully funded. We also had a great discussion about Samuel. Sometimes we have a hard time hearing when God calls for us, not only by maybe not knowing what He sounds like when He calls, but also not recognizing what God may be calling to within us. It's hard to recognize the gifts within ourselves that God has blessed us with. But that's why God gave Samuel Eli. It was Eli that God worked through to lead Samuel in the right direction. That's why we need each other. God works through each of us to show one another what our special gifts are and to help one another lead each other to God's call.

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The Deacon's Bench

I received two books this Christmas that were a perfect match for what I've been sorting out over the last few months. One is Fields of Blood,
Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong, one of my favorite contemporary authors on religion. The other is a sur-prise selection, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber, whom I never heard of until now, which is probably because I never took a class in sociology. It seems that he is one of the fathers of the subject.
For this month, I would like to share some thoughts on two things that I have learned so far. The first is the subject of religion and the sec-ond is how religion influences, if not steers our perceptions and actions even if we deny that we are “religious”. If you attended the Eucharist and Annual meeting on Jan 25, you would recall Blaine discussing “organized religion”. He had it coming when he fed me the line, “Have you ever seen organized religion?” He should know better. But Karen Armstrong says something more to the point about that loaded word.
“The origins of the Latin religio are obscure. … [It] had imprecise con-notations of obligation and taboo; to say that a cultic observance, a family propriety, or keeping an oath was religio for you meant that it was incumbent on you to do it. ... The word acquired an important new meaning among early Christian theologians: an attitude of rever-ence toward God and the universe as a whole.”
This is very different from our post-reformation notion of reli-gion. It is not “organized” at all unless you mean that this obligation or-ganizes our very being. In any event, it is not about Diocesan Convention or Vestry meetings. If you look at this older, more reliable definition clos-er, one can be vociferously atheist or anti-church but it is extremely hard to not be religio. If you value anything and keep it safe, you have religio toward it.
Max Weber brings an interesting outlook to the table. His book traces the “protestant work ethic” back to Calvinism. He develops the so-cial and psychological implications of Calvinism and how it formed the minds of the Puritans who arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. He calls it Protestant Asceticism, a development similar to the earlier Monastic As-ceticism. The difference between them is their goals. In the monastic case, work is for the glory of God as expressed in self-denial, work in the community, and prayer. In the Protestant (Calvinist) case, it is personal salvation through work that results in prosperity. I recommend the book. It is long since out of copyright so you can find it online for free. Weber quotes many of Ben Franklin's aphorisms to make an im-portant point. If we look at:
“Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reck-on that the only expense; he has really spent, rather thrown away, five shillings, besides.”
This may sound familiar as “business” sense, but that sense is very strongly Calvinist. Weber's very important point is that enough time passed between the religious ferment of 16th century England and Ben's time that the religious connotation faded. It has all but disappeared today – except for its intent and results. The connection to God is gone, more or less, but the ethic and all its implications are still here. It is simply assumed to be how things are, unattributed to anybody, supernatural or not.
This brings me back to religio. If we acknowledge its pre-modern meanings, it is pretty hard to avoid being “religious”. We all feel obligation to something. One of the insights I came away with from my reading of We-ber is that so much of the ethics, behavior, and attitudes of Puritanism re-main in us on an unconscious level, even among the avowed agnostics and “un-churched” among us. I don't have a problem with Calvinism per se. Our Anglican tradition is indeed part Calvinist, part Lutheran, and part Catholic. It is the unconscious, assumed part that is the problem that we all face. What is it that we actually believe? And by belief, I mean its broader mean-ing of trust, not its other meaning of a rational acceptance of some proposi-tion or statement. Like an iceberg, there is more below the water line than above. Just realizing this is a significant step on our spiritual journey, and exploring that depth is a lifetime of work. I pray that we continue search-ing.Jim Leib

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The Lenten Pretzel

A very long time ago, (in the early 600’s) there was a monk who gave every-thing in his life to God. He lived with other monks, who prayed and read the Bible many times during the day. They lived together in a monastery. This monk had been in the kitchen where other monks were baking a special bread for lent, and he saw some leftover pieces of dough. He decided to use the leftover pieces of dough for something special.
The monk formed the dough into thin strips, and then crossed them into a looped twist to be like the folded arms of children in prayer. The pretzel really has its origins as an official food of Lent.
They began calling the treat "Pretiola", which means "little reward" in Latin. A dif-ferent version of the story calls them bracellae, a German word that eventually be-came pretzel. Soon it was known the world over as a pretzel. The simple shape of the pretzel, arms folded in prayer, reminds us to pray every day. Lent is the 40+ days before Easter. The monk in our story lived in a time when you could not eat meat or milk or eggs during Lent. So he and his brother monks had to figure out a special bread that did not use eggs or milk. The monks were preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt – which is what pretzels are still made out of today. Pretzels were a common food given to the poor and hungry. They were cheap and easy to make and satisfied hunger. Pretzels are a spiritual reminder of God knowing a person’s needs and answering our prayers.

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February 17, 6 pm: Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Pancake Supper in the Parish Hall, $7 suggested donation.

February 18, 6pm: Ash Wednesday. Imposition of Ashes in the sanctuary.

Soup Suppers, 6 pm, Sundays of Lent

March 29: Palm Sunday
Mar. 29 — Apr. 3: Holy Week (schedule TBA)
Apr. 5: Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection!

Some Books for Lent:
** from Loyola Press: www.loyolapress.com/books-for-lent.htm. Several of these looked promising.
** from the Episcopal Bookstore: episcopalbookstore.com/search.aspx?term=lent. Ditto this resource.
Go to these or other web sites & find a book to take on your Lenten journey.

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Pastoral Care Team: the compassion of God in SLV

Contact Elizabeth Forbes to become a part of the Pastoral Care Team. We will be providing brief & simple outreach to those who need a word of encouragement or would like to receive communion at the hospital or at home.If you would like to participate in this simple but meaningful ministry, contact Elizabeth, at elizabethdhf@gmail.com.

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Dena Robertson (February 2)
Rochelle Kelly (February 4)
Gene Kodner (February 4)
Alexander Cadell (February 7)
Paula Jansen (February 10)
Tedd Parske (February 13)
Ray Schmidt (February 13)
Isabella Landeros (February 19)
Teresa Ruff (February 20)
Anabelle Bauer (February 24)
Brett McPherson (February 26)
Gary Smith (March 2)
Gina Carling (March 4)
Sabrina ValldeRuten (March 6)
Clark McPherson (March 7)
Elizabeth Forbes (March 9)
Jerry Fishel (March 16)
Tom Spring (March 24)
Gary McCormick (March 27)

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The Back Page...

Praying for St. Andrew's - Paula Jansen

I mentioned in a previous article that the Commission on Ministry (COM) asked those of us called to ordained ministry to do a ministry project. We were urged to limit the project to three months. Now that I've finished, I'm wondering if any of you would like to keep it going. Although many of us pray for St. Andrew's on our own, there seemed to be something special and strong in our meeting together to pray for the church. Please contact me if you'd like to continue that 15 minute prayer session once a month for St. Andrew’s. In the meantime, here is the report I sent to the COM. Many thanks to those who joined me in the project and encouraged me. The project wouldn't have happened without you all.

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What do you think? Letters to the Editor are welcome! If you are interested in submitting an article in next month's newsletter, contact Elizabeth Forbes or Paula Jansen.