The Meaning of Christmas
Most of us grow up with an image of the ideal Christmas. It is usually somewhere between the fun gathering of friends like Charlie Brown and the image of family gatherings described by Dickens. Whether we find that our hearts are pulled to relatives or friends, office companions or crowds gathering for Christmas cheer, there always seems to be a need to gather with others in community. We want to be recognized as a meaningful part of the gathering – we long to have a place at the table – to feel the warm affection of others. Christ’s birth into this world was in answer to that longing that we feel – that need to know that we are not alone - that our lives are significant. This child who could not find a bed to be born in offers the world the assurance that we all have a home with God, that we are loved beyond measure and that we are part of an eternal community.
The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption. It is a promise made to the whole world. The meaning of Christmas is defined by all of us each time we look for Christ in each other. Whenever we consider God’s creation of love around us and reflect that love to others, we demonstrate Christ’s presence in the world. God sent himself into the world as a small child, dependent on the love of others while he grew into his ministry of mercy, light and life. An open heart, seeking to let in that mercy, light and life is a heart truly open to the meaning of Christmas.
Have a Blessed Christmas
On the Playground
It can certainly raise suspicion (and should) when an adult stranger stops for very long to watch children playing on a playground. Occasionally however, as a former teacher and a long-distance grandmother, my caution about appearances gets pushed aside by my need to simply hear the young voices and see the energy of youth. I obviously keep my distance and stay on the outer side of the fence – but if there is some sunshine and blue sky to go with the sound of play, I stop to be re-energized and inspired.
Rarely am I disappointed. Recently, I was inspired again. A small group of kids about 10 years old were slowly circling a girl of about the same age. I stopped to observe – all of my mental and emotional alarms going off. I looked around the area to see if there was a playground supervisor nearby. There wasn’t. I tried to see the expressions on the faces of those who were circling, but my own poor eyesight made that impossible. So, I watched and waited, ready to find an opening in the fence and run to the rescue or yell out in my best teacher voice.
The body language of the girl in the center told me that she was on full alert even though she didn’t say anything. Then, suddenly, the group circling her – almost in one motion moved in and lifted her up with their arms. As they did so they let out a huge cheer. I know if someone had walked past me at that moment, they would have wondered at the surprised look I had on my face. But that look could not have held a candle to the look of surprise on the face of the girl in the center of the circle. Once she was safely back on the ground there was laughter and friendly nudging throughout the group. Then, a couple of girls wrapped their arms around the surprised girl’s shoulders and strode off across the playground to take up their next activity.
I stood very still by that fence for a few moments. I was getting my heart back down into my chest and turning off all the internal alarms. After another few seconds I called out to one of the boys who had lifted up the girl. He looked over at this short, older woman wearing a funny collar and black shirt and must have decided that I wasn’t much of a threat through a chain link fence. I asked the question I wanted to ask while he was still a distance from the chain link. “Why did all of you pick the girl up like that?”
His shoulders went up in that familiar shrug that makes up a good portion of the signaling system used by youth towards those of us who are no longer with it. “I don’t know,” he said. “She just needed it.” Then he turned around and ran back to his buddies.
“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! . . . How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings . . .”. I stood by the fence for awhile longer, thinking about how easy and natural it had been for that group of children to lift someone into the air. All of us need gathering. All of us need times to be raised up. The sunshine, the blue sky, the voices at play are God’s grace at work in Creation. The outstretched arms and surprised joy are the community we can make in God’s Creation.
Dear Friends in Christ
Each year as we begin the Stewardship Drive for funding, the following comment occurs; “Well, here we go again, asking for money.” OK. That’s right. This is the time of year when we examine our Church expenses and our Church budget, and we begin to prepare for next year’s financial needs. We might like to think that, just as Jesus fed the 5 thousand, the Church’s material needs will be cared for because God will provide. Yes, God WILL provide. But even Jesus began the miracle of feeding all those people by calling upon the crowd to contribute what they had brought with them and then by prayerfully offering thanks to God for blessing such gifts.
Jesus’ example reminds us of all the aspects of stewardship and how the act of giving is a reciprocal arrangement. It requires a giver and a receiver and some way of connecting the two together. Right now, at this time of the year, we place much of the stewardship emphasis on money. Bills need to be paid. Programs need to be funded. Mission needs to go forward. But the gift of money to the Church is also a message of understanding. It’s a gift that says, “I understand that God has given me all that is good in my life. I understand that God has shown mercy to me when I have done nothing to deserve it. I understand that all that I am and all that I have belongs to God anyway, and giving back a portion of what I have is a small but significant message of love that I send to the One who created me.”
Stewardship is about trust. Stewards are people who watch out for the belongings of their masters. They work hard to increase what their masters have and to wisely use the resources to please their masters. In 21st Century America, we don’t like to think about having masters, but where God is concerned we have to put all our needs; our need to be equal, our need to be in control, our need to demand our rights – we must put all of these aside and confess that God is our Master and all that we have is His.
So, what are the things we are required to do in order to be good stewards? First, we must be in community. Jesus did not perform his feeding miracle when he was alone. He feeds the people because he loves them and is spending time with them. When we gather in community we are participating in opportunities to love one another as our master has taught us to do.
We must be prayerful. The Stewardship campaign is a good season to inventory our prayer life. Do we make time to have conversation with God? Sometimes this means that we need to find a quiet space and talk to our loving Father. Sometimes it means that we need to ask silently for a quick blessing on the person we just passed on the street or the child asleep in the bed. Sometimes it means being conscious that a problem must be handed over to God and that we must commit ourselves to trusting that God will lead us through the mess in the way that is best for us and others.
Being a good steward means setting aside time to worship God and to receive Eucharist. It is an act of praise that allows us to spend time in confession, worship, and community with others who have come to understand that we are loved in spite of ourselves by a Creator who longs to be with us.
Stewardship is also about giving back. It’s about making a commitment in the form of a monetary pledge. It’s about understanding that God wants us to demonstrate that we know where all our gifts come from and that we will not take for granted the many blessings that God’s grace brings to us. It is a very important way to say thank you.
Stewardship is about faith. It requires us to put our practices, our prayerfulness, our commitments, and yes, our money where our mouth is. To be a follower of Christ is to be a steward. Please fill out a Pledge card and commit yourself to stewardship in all its forms.
A few months after 9/11 in 2001, David and I found ourselves standing in front of Ground Zero in New York City. The shock of the attack, and the magnitude of its impact on our nation were in full bloom. You may remember the armed military guards at airports, the heightened nervousness of passengers and the overall sense of siege that our country experienced.
In the space of a few weeks, we all found our nation in a war and tilting on the edge of economic instability that ultimately helped widen the way for the financial disasters that loomed not too far in the future. Lists began to appear. Troubling, disturbing lists. Lists of colors representing the level of terrorist threat held in each day. Lists of names of individuals to be stopped, interrogated and possibly detained when trying to board planes. Lists of physical characteristics that might make someone seem more likely to be an enemy. Lists of books, websites, source materials to be watched. Lists of musicians, artists, writers, movie stars who might be susceptible to antigovernment influences. Lists of words not to be printed in emails, or said in airports or other public places without risk of detention. Lists of charities and community organizations accused of funding questionable, shadowy activities. So many lists. It was easy to get swallowed up in the fear and the shock. The fear was real and the shock was palpable. Certainly some of that fear and the precautions it brought was a legitimate reaction to the terrible crime that had been committed against so many innocent people. But some of the fear strengthened our inabilities to communicate with those who disagree with us politically or spiritually. That’s a damage from 9/11 we have not managed yet to repair.
As we come to the tenth anniversary of such a tragic event in our shared history, my hope is that we will remember the day with lists that help us bind our wounds and move forward together. Shared memories of the courage and love displayed in a time of crisis allow us to grow strong as a people. Let’s remember those lists of firefighters and law enforcement officers who rushed in as others were rushing out. Remember the passenger lists of those who died – often leaving phone called messages to loved ones in their last moments of life. Remember the lists of medical and rescue teams who worked tirelessly for weeks on end to keep hope alive. Remember the lists of those who escaped from collapsing, burning buildings and have continued to courageously fight through the scars such a day brings. Remember the lists of families, friends, and coworkers who lost the company and comfort of those who died. Remember the list of nations who offered prayers and consolations to a wounded people.
Nations may always choose what to learn and what to keep from each tragedy that occurs. My prayer is that what we decide to hold on to from 9/11 will be those lists that help us be a more loving and courageous people.
I’m absolutely stunned. How can it be that in the blink of an eye we have gone from March to August? Truly, I have been buried in a heap of work, rain, and moving – and somewhere in that pile was a calendar that didn’t wait for me. My pace is out of alignment. When I taught school, I tracked the days more carefully. I wanted to make sure I noticed each 24 hour period and counted the number of times I worked in the yard or cleaned out a closet. But those timekeepers don’t work for me any more.
I think my new timekeeper is food. Fresh food. Not only will the fruits and vegetables that cross my table remind me of the time of year, but they offer an opportunity to read scripture with more insight and depth of spirit. Think of all the countless stories in the Bible that concern food. Think of all the times Jesus used planting, fishing, harvesting, eating and drinking as a way to give insight. Scriptural food serves to feed not only the mind and spirit, but to remind us to nourish the body.
With gardens yielding the fruits of our labor, this is a good time to think upon the bounty and to offer some of our blessings to those who are hungry. Fresh vegetables contributed to the food pantry can be a huge blessing to many.
Perhaps it is also time to take this image one step further. Over the next few months please give some serious consideration to possible ways our parish might grow as a resource in assisting those who are hungry. Some things to assist have been tried and implemented before. Our work for the community food pantry through Fishes n’ Loaves is an important resource. Potluck Sundays (which begin again in September) have served some of this purpose as well. What other ideas do we need to consider? Many prayerful hearts and minds can find ways to increase blessings.
In a few months we’ll see what possibilities have come to mind. Through those conversations we’ll see where the Spirit takes us. There are a few things to consider as we examine this.
Please think outside the box. Have you heard of a program or activity that builds community while supporting those in need? Have you been wanting to try an idea? Ultimately, if we end up trying anything new, it will need to be through the consensus of our community. We are called to be more. Perhaps this is the call. Together, let’s find out.
This month brings to St. Peter’s the much anticipated ordination of The Rev. Susan Fischer. Susan has been with us, serving as a transitional deacon for the past year. In that time, she won the hearts of the members of this parish. I know that it will be difficult for us to let her go on to the ministries she has been called to, but we shall continue to be grateful for the gifts she has shared with us and the joy she has given to the parish with her presence and talents.
I have often reflected on my role in relation to Susan during this past year. Mentoring someone in transition can be a rather awkward thing to do. It is a balance of instruction and creating space. The task of the mentor is to create opportunities for the individual to develop their own approach to the priesthood, while at the same time, expecting that a steady course be maintained for the parish. I have enjoyed working with Susan and hopefully, allowing her to grow into her own particular gifts a little more. I believe she is a strong witness to the power and love of God at work in the world. I look forward to hearing of her accomplishments in the future. She takes with her my continual prayers for her ministry.
For us at St. Peter’s, while we will miss having Susan serve as our deacon, this time of transition should also serve as a time of reflection. Discernment is not intended to happen just for those who may be called to ordination. Discerning our gifts and figuring out how God would have us use them within our Church community is a task all of us share. There are as many ways to serve the Church as there are talents.
The ordination ceremony on the 18th of June is a reminder of the call that all baptized Christians receive – to love God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds; and to love each other as we love ourselves. As we watch Susan take her vows, perhaps each of us should silently take our own vows – to discover more fully the ways that God would use us. More than the cloak of vestments, more than the setting apart for ordination – each of us is called to be cloaked in the full birthright that comes through baptism and to be set apart for the work that God would have us to do. We will celebrate with the Diocese in Susan’s ordination. Let’s also celebrate in the deepening commitment each of us makes to love and serve God, each other, and the world.
Have you noticed how many rose bushes are dead? They seem to have been hit hard throughout the entire Wasatch Front. Last November we had a cold patch of weather followed by some really warm weather and then back again to freezing. The poor roses didn’t know whether to be dormant or to move to growth and many of them got caught in the cold. Nurseries advise us that we can cut the bushes back deeply (sometimes almost to the ground) and that some of the root bases will gradually begin to promote new growth. But for many of the plants, they are beyond salvation. Rose gardens this spring look like they belong around the home of Gomez and Morticia Adams (if you don’t know who these characters are – ask your parents)! The condo that David and I have moved into is surrounded on all three sides by rose bushes. They look abandoned and forlorn. They also look deadly. The long spikes and black stems give out a warning – that you are taking your life into your own hands if you get too near. I am not looking forward to the prospect of cutting them down and digging them out.
The same scenario exists at both St. Peter’s and St. Michael’s. What were once beautiful rose bushes in our gardens, now look like props in a scary movie. The task of determining which ones will live and which ones must go will be tough.
The last few years have seen us all going through our own kinds of freezing temperatures – hot and cold spells – hot wars and cold economy – hot political tempers and cold calculations concerning help to those in need. It is easy to begin to feel like dead rose bushes – with nothing left but dark branches and severe thorns. Times like these can make us feel abused and cynical. But we are called to hope. We are called to remember that Christ walks the trying times with us as well as the times of celebration.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians that, “whoever plows should plow in hope . . .” (9:10). Hope sometimes seems hard to maintain. But we are better able to have hope when we are surrounded by hopeful people. Our faith is reinforced when we hang out with those who are faithful. When you find yourself in a time of struggle, that is not the time to back away from your faith community. That’s the time to increase your contact. Whether the issue is health or finances or family struggles or depression, it is in community that we can support each other through the rough times.
Sometimes we may have to be pruned all the way to the root. Sometimes the winterkill doesn’t leave much for us to celebrate. But when we nurture each other in our faith and in hope, we may come to feel how close God is as support in our troubles and guide for our steps.
Blessings for Your Garden
Easter is late this year, and for me, that’s a good thing. David and I began the process of looking for a condo not too long ago, and when we found one, we thought the negotiations on a price would take awhile. We bid low and figured we would have a month or so. But the owners took our bid and suddenly, we were off to the races. Anyway, if all the signing, packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning had taken place in Holy Week, I would never have been able to do it. Besides all that, I always liked a late Easter. How can little girls show off their Easter dresses if it’s still freezing outside?
One of the consequences of having a late Easter this year however, is having more time to watch some of the antics of our state and national governments as they figure out the budgetary politics for the year. The words that seem most often to describe the proposed pieces of legislation are fear, power, greed and injustice. I’ll leave it to you to determine – prayerfully – which political groups seem to wrap these terms around their negotiations most often. In the mean time, the rest of us are left to lobby, pray and wait to see what courses get set.
Isn’t it interesting, that the same descriptions that we can apply to legislation today were the same characteristics that were present in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus two thousand years ago? It was the fear, power, greed, and injustice of the world that had condemned us, and Christ’s love for us that saved us from ourselves. Love – pure and simple. It is the message that Christ brings to us.
When Christ rose from the tomb and conquered death, he did so through the power of love – for God is love. The life that we are meant to have – the joy, empowerment, generosity and justice that we are meant to experience and share are freely given if we have faith.
Christ’s resurrection is our own and we are called to understand the lessons of this new life. So, begin with love. If you are confused about world affairs begin by asking where is the basis for love. If you aren’t sure whether to support a political action or contribute to a political cause, ask if the action or cause will increase love. We don’t need more fear in the world. We have more than our share of power grabbers. People will face greed and injustice without us adding to their misery. We have to take a stand. More than two millennia of trying it the old way should be enough evidence to suggest that we need to make different choices.
Try love. Christ calls us out of the darkness of our own tombs into new life. The things that we say and do – the actions and choices that we make need to reflect what we say Christ has done to our lives. To love each other – to love all people – to think about their welfare and their futures is to live into the promise of the risen Christ. It is to live a life that proclaims to the world, “Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!”
Each month I attend a meeting of the Interfaith Association in Brigham City. The concept for such a group is not new, but itself is great. The organization’s purpose is to pull together leaders and representatives from a variety of faith traditions so that they may find ways to serve the community at large and to promote understanding and cooperation among the faith communities themselves. This particular group however, faces two awkward challenges. The first is that all of the individuals attending come from Christian-based traditions. All faith groups are invited, but we’re not finding a synagogue, mosque, or any other spiritual sanctuary in the area to tap into. This immediately limits the sorts of conversations that such a group would like to be exploring. The second challenge is that, even some of the Christian-rooted faith groups in the area refuse to be a part of the association because it allows for people of all faiths – Christian or not – to be a part of the conversation. Those refusing to attend consider the rest of us as leaders who are very close to selling out to the Devil.
In spite of these drawbacks – or perhaps because of them- the association continues to meet and to reason. Out of these meetings has come a series of articles published each month in the local newspaper surrounding the topic of Civility. This would seem like a pretty safe topic to discuss with people, and it is. This would also seem like a much -needed topic to discuss with people and again, it is. However, the topic may also serve as a trap. Civility – in all its forms – pushes for politeness. Now there is nothing wrong with being polite. As a parent, grandparent, and former school teacher, I am totally in favor of everyone being more polite. As an author of some of the articles on Civility, I certainly support the promotion as far as it reaches. But, most of us know that our society – our world community- is not really going to make the changes that are needed in order to be the people God (in all God’s definitions) intended us to be by simply being civil. Civility is a place to begin, but it can’t deter us from where we are being called to journey.
Civility alone too often allows us to hide ideas and actions that entrench us in misconceptions about each other or are even malevolent in nature. One example is the “civil” way the invitation to the Interfaith meetings is politely rejected by some of our Christian collogues. Another example involves “civility” on a larger scale. How many times have we heard public officials answer questions with “polite” responses that mask actions and motives intended to deprive people of basic necessities or to hide underhanded dealings that work in favor of the ‘haves’ by taking from the ‘have nots’? Civility used in such a way can mask not only public neglect but even criminal behavior. Civility used as well to promote patriotism can be a positive force, but it often becomes a hammer to slam down on the heads of people calling for openness and change. Like any positive quality, Civility can be turned into a negative attribute.
“Civil” discourse in our country may fly out the window when pressure is applied. In times of trouble, those with the least power are often targeted as the reasons for general suffering. When unemployment is high, there is a tendency to blame the immigrant, or the unionist, or the racial minority. When fear of attack is high, there is a tendency to blame those of other faiths and other traditions. Never mind past policies that maintain 95% of the wealth for those in the top 1% of the population, leverage companies into bankruptcy or pollute and destroy living and working areas. Never mind policies that disregard the human rights of the world’s people in favor of geopolitical power and influence. Some of the worst problems the world faces today are problems that all of us, for many years have contributed to making while often hiding behind the economic, diplomatic and social graces of so-called civility.
Civility without love of others leaves us cynical and calculating. I am not suggesting for even a moment that the way to stop some of the worst abuses in the world is for everyone to become rude. What I am suggesting is that we understand the need to connect our practice of civility with a genuine love for each other. Civil disagreement based on honesty will get us further than polite conversations that hide negative motives and disdain. Really hearing each other and making up our minds that we are all in this world together will move us into the best parts of civility. And it all begins with each of us. Speaking truth to power – in honest dialogue can change the world. Being smart in our politeness, without sacrificing integrity, moves everyone forward.
So let’s start with those around us. Stop the polite gossip that usually begins with phrases like. “I just love so-and-so but, . . . “ (Ouch! I just hit a bad habit!) Stop talking to others about third parties. If there are issues to sort out, talk directly to the person involved – in true civility – using politeness based on love of the ‘other’. Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes (We know this one!). It really is OK for other people to view the world from a different point of view than our own. Civility based on love and honesty isn’t about coming to agreement. It’s about honoring each other as children of the Eternal and Everlasting God. It’s about seeing God’s creation in each other’s eyes and knowing that we are called, as people of faith, to love each other and honor the love of God we find in the presence of every person on earth.
I don’t know if I’ll be called upon to write any more articles on the concept of Civility. But if I do, I promise to make sure I connect it to the idea of really honoring, respecting and loving each other. These, after all, are the best qualities of Civility.
PRIEST IN CHARGE
As I begin my second year as Priest in Charge at St. Peter’s, I am filled with tremendous gratitude for the opportunity God has given me to be with you. This past year has been marked with changes and adjustments. I want to thank you for your gracious patience and flexibility as we have worked to come together in community and as a sister parish with St. Michael’s in Brigham City. Change is always difficult, especially for Episcopalians! There are, after all, reasons why we tell jokes about ourselves and our grip on things we consider permanent, (“Change the light bulb?!!! My mother gave the church that light bulb!!”). In spite of the changes, we have had an opportunity to examine the great work done by people of faith within this community this year. Thank you for your commitment to God, to this parish family, and to the community as a whole.
This past year has been full of extended blessings for me that have helped me grow in my calling. Near the end of 2009, I was asked to join the Commission on Ministry in the Diocese. This is an advisory group that assists the Bishop in determining the education and ordination process for prospective clergy, and offers guidance for lay education. I continue to serve on this Commission and to serve as the Chairperson for its permanent sub-committee on Education and Formation. As Chair, I authored an extensive policy statement for the sub-committee this year. I am also currently attending the Fresh Start program in the Diocese. Each time clergy enter a new parish, they begin this two-year program of education and reflection. I continue to serve on the New Hope Crisis Center Board and on the Food Pantry Board in Brigham City. I am a member of the Interfaith Ministerial Association and the Northern Utah Ministerial Association. I also continue to serve as the Convener for the Northern Clericus in our Diocese. I was asked to submit two articles on Civility to northern region newspapers this year, and to serve the ACLU as a panel member on LGBT issues, at Weber State University last fall.
As the priest of two parishes, I know that the greatest challenge I continually face is to find ways to be present with both communities for as many activities and services as possible. Thank you for being so conscientious in remembering that because there are two parishes yoked together, every parish activity and function is doubled on my calendar. I deeply appreciate your vigilance in checking with me before scheduling parish activities. This assists me in being with you whenever I can so that you will know that I love you and want to share our spiritual and fellowship experiences.
I am deeply grateful to my colleague and mentor The Rev. Ivan Cendese, PhD, for his enthusiastic support of this parish and our ministry together. His insights and talents are a joy that we at St. Peter’s have the pleasure to experience. Father Ivan’s enthusiasm for learning has led to the creation of a men’s Sunday gathering twice a month after service where ideas and scripture may be more fully explored. If you have not taken advantage of this group, you need to. Episcopalians have always been known for their free exchange of ideas – no small accomplishment in a society that often seems intent on making us all think alike. We are fortunate that Father Ivan will be able to remain at St. Peter’s through this year. I value his support and friendship and his commitment to the Gospel.
We have had the joy of meeting The Rev. Susan Fischer this year. Susan is currently serving as our Transitional Deacon and is in process for her ordination to the priesthood. Susan has proven to be a willing student and I appreciate her devotion to learning all she can about the role of a priest and to her ability to remind us how wonderful it is to have a Deacon serve at the Altar. In order to add to her experience at St. Peter’s, I have assigned Susan to preach once a month during her transition. She has been doing a beautiful job. Susan has also been willing to lead the women’s study group that meets after service twice each month. She is doing a great job with this as well. As a parish we will, with God’s grace and the consent of the Bishop, soon see Susan ordained as a priest. Thank you for your enthusiastic support of her ministry.
Our ministry at St. Peter’s however goes far beyond the work of the clergy. Many of you have given of your time and talents to build the community of St. Peter’s. From the members of the Bishop’s Committee to the newly formed Finance Committee, from Music ministry to Altar Guild, from Servers to Sunday School teachers and Nursery, LEMs, Artists Guild, Building and Grounds, newsletter and bulletin, Coffee Hour and Brunch, Ladies’ Luncheons and special activities, as well as our new Social Committee, the loving people of St. Peter’s reach out to each other and to everyone who enters this place, with their love and talents.
The love extends further through our outreach ministries. The quiet way in which many of you leave gifts of food to be given through our Fishes and Loaves ministry to the local Food Pantry is an expression of your understanding that God calls us to practice the Gospel in the world. The ministry provided by so many of you to Lincoln Elementary through year long donations of school supplies, clothing, books and money has offered the opportunity for children to have better lives. Thank you for the gentle, thoughtful way you have presented your gifts and offered up such blessings.
This community has come forward in its ministry of leadership as well. I am deeply grateful for the work of the Bishop’s Committee. This Committee has prayerfully and thoughtfully approached parish work and continues to be a great guide for us in the life of this community. Our loving Sunday School teachers have prepared and modeled lessons of love and faith for our children. God bless them for their dedication. Our choir and wonderful organist have led us in the celebration of music and God’s love. Each person who has stepped forward to offer their abilities to God and this community has been a part of what makes St. Peter’s such a wonderful place to worship and laugh together. Thank you for your ministries and for sharing them with all of us.
Stewardship is also obvious in the loving care demonstrated through the work of our Building and Grounds ministry, Mike Harris’ work as Sexton, and the beautiful ministries of the Altar Guild and the Artists’ Guild. The lovely mural in the Narthex and the wonderful paintings of the Gospel symbols are only two of the examples. Loving hands prepare food for Sunday and gatherings and hand us bulletins as we enter the church. All of these ministries are demonstrations of God at work through us.
I look forward to another year of growing in faith with you. I’m excited about the activities that have already been planned for this year and the possibilities for sharing new ways to build community with each other and the world around us. Thank you again for your graciousness and patience as changes to liturgy, schedules, committees, activities and finances have been made. Your faith and love of God and each other are at the core of St. Peter’s Church.
Yours in Christ
Happy New Year!!
So how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Are you still losing weight, getting organized, planning a special trip, or trying to get along better with family members? Did you make a resolution, or did you decide that such an activity is a waste of time and it would be better to make your way into the kitchen for another sandwich made from that Christmas ham? Resolutions for me receive the same reaction as the thought of exercise – I lie down until the mood passes.
I’m more likely to change a habit or pick up a new one if I approach it in a different way. First I need to think very carefully about the habit as a whole. It’s not enough to know that a new habit might be good for me. I have to figure out a way to make that new habit part of my DNA. This always takes careful, conscientious practice. It takes thoughtfulness and constant vigilance. But if the habit is worthwhile, then this step gradually leads me to accepting the good the habit brings to me. For me – the plan has to be laid out before I can even imagine making the resolution.
As I apply this philosophy to St. Peter’s, I know that I need help in laying out our plans for the new year. That help of course, comes from the Bishop’s Committee, ministry leadership, finance committee, supporting clergy, and most importantly the community of St. Peter’s as a whole. Our upcoming Annual Meeting will help us get started on the journey. Please plan on attending on January 30, following the worship service. The meeting will last about an hour and then we’ll head into the fellowship hall for a catered luncheon.
During the meeting we’ll review some of the activities and accomplishments of the past year, and look forward to the promises and challenges for the coming year. We will select two new members to the Bishop’s Committee (Please consider running for a position or supporting someone you know who would be great in leadership.). We will also select two delegates and two alternates for this year’s convention in the fall. This will also be a time for me to specifically thank so many of you who have committed yourselves to the community of St. Peter’s.
As for the luncheon that follows. My good friend Dyrk Farr will take care of everything for us. If we need any motivation to keep the meeting short, the wonderful smells permeating from the kitchen will remind us to stay on task. Please come hungry. Dyrk makes a great roast. Ladies, there is no cleanup or set up with this meal. It is all taken care of. Your only task is to relax and enjoy. David and I want all of you to consider this our way of saying thank you to everyone for your supportive love during the year, and an opportunity to show the appreciation we feel for being with you. I have fallen in love with you this year. It makes planning for the future a real joy.
God Bless Each of You as You Begin This New Year
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