Friday, July 31, 2015

Trinity Tidings - August 2015


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Trinity Tidings
The E Newsletter of Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek

August 2015

In This Issue
Rector's Report
Did You Know?
Message from the Sr. Warden
Discernment Workshops
Talents & Time
Amador Council on Aging
Food Bank Donations
Ultreya Reminder
Trinity Singers Rehearsals
Birthdays this month
Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter
Quick Links...
 

 
  
Rector's Report for August    

In 1995, I went on a two week vacation and left my dog with a friend.  Zorro was a 14 year old Yorkshire Terrier who was slowly diminishing in health due to kidney failure.  By the time I returned, she had lost 50% of her body weight and was clearly dying.  I took her home immediately and began to make her comfortable.  By 10 pm that night, I knew she was at death's door.  She was in great pain, bleeding from the rectum, and helpless.  My heart went out to her.  I wish I had had the medicine to let her die peacefully that night but I had to wait until 8am the following morning when the veterinary office would open.  It was a long night and I slept on the floor next to her shivering body.  The following morning I said good-bye to Zorro as the veterinarian put her to sleep.  It was a blessing to see her finally at peace, in that place where there is no more pain or suffering.  R.I.P. Zorro!

Having worked as a nurse several years earlier, I had seen many patients suffer in the final chapter of their lives.  While the medical community has improved with pain control management, many folks still die in pain or in humiliating circumstances.  I often wonder what I would do if I found myself in the same kind of situation.  I think I would like to have the option that my dog had some 20 years ago.

In the past year, I have had the experience of two people (one who was paralyzed and the other who was disabled and suffering from pain) who thought about the issue of the "Right to Die."  These folks wanted to have an "end of life" conversation with their physicians but one was rebuffed and the other did not feel safe to speak about this issue with her doctor.  While large doses of pain medication is administered during the final days of life (which speeds up the death process), it seems that our current laws prohibit a planned process for dying with dignity before the final day.  

I think it is time to have an important conversation in Amador County about "The Right to Die: Expanding End of Life Options."  To that end, Trinity Church is sponsoring a public forum at the Senior Center on August 286-8 PM.  Our guest speaker is from Compassion and Choices.   During this forum/conversation, we will be discussing the ethics, options, and history of this controversial but important topic.  Please come and invite your friends or other interested parties. 

 
Peace and blessings,

Pastor Karen Siegfriedt+

Photos of Activities at Trinity in July: 
Fireworks, Food & Friendships at Rectory on 7/3/15
 
Backpack outreach for Amador County: 16 backpacks, $705.00, & many school supplies collected.
Capital Campaign 2015:  Repair, Renew, Rejoice!
We have reached the 70% mark.  Help us meet our goal.
Did You Know? 
- We have seven teams who have signed up for the "Bowling for Belly Laughs" get together on Sunday, August 2nd.  Come bowl with us at 12:30 or be a cheerleader and eat a hotdog!

August 22 @ 3PM:  Parish potluck and swim.  John and Noreen Lafferty are opening up their home in Ione to all the Trinity folks to get together, eat, schmooze, and swim or not swim.  Hotdogs and hamburgers provided.  Bring a dish to share.

August 28 @ 6PM:  The Right to Die: Expanding End of Life Options.  This is a conversation sponsored by Trinity Church, held at the Senior Center in Jackson with guest speaker.

- Fr. Bill Adams asks for our prayers as he prepares for heart surgery next week.
From the Senior Warden:
 Every month I read the Trinity newsletter and every month I am amazed at the many things being done by our church family for the community and for others in the church. As I write this, not yet having seen the newsletter, I know that once again Trinity will have once again made a positive difference to someone.

The vestry met this month at the home of John and Noreen Lafferty, primarily because we were invited and they are good cooks! In a short meeting, after eating our fill in the company of spouses, we agreed to the completion of several projects on the capital improvement list. I won't give away what they are but if you drive by the church at night or help in the kitchen, you just might figure it out! The parking lot repair is currently scheduled for late September with the expectation that we will achieve our funding needs with your help. In another item, Paul Lewis stepped down from the vestry and John Lafferty was elected Jr. Warden in his place.

Finally, don't forget to mark your calendars for the church picnic on October 18th.

Keith Sweet
Discernment Workshops
Have you ever wondered about being a deacon- what makes a good deacon, what's the process? A series of 6 workshops might help you decide if the diaconate is right for you. Monthly discernment workshops will begin Aug. 22, 10am-2pm at St. Francis in Fair Oaks. For more information contact Cookie Clark (cookie.clark@sbcglobal.net) or Gary Brown (garybrown6@yahoo.com).
Talents and Time?
Are you someone who has some time and you are just itching to get into a project to use your talents?  Well, the Master Task List for the church just might be what you are looking for!  This is the list of all the work projects, big and small, that have been noted around the property.  It includes everything from the routine 'spring and fall' cleaning we do on our work days to some more difficult tasks which could use your special talent!  The list is posted in the church office on a clip board hanging above and to the right of the counter.  Take some time after church one Sunday and take a look.  And, if you see other things around the church that need doing, just give your Junior Warden, John Lafferty, a call and he'll get that item added to the list.
Amador Council on Aging
Have you checked out the Health Ministry counter in Jane's Hall lately?? There are many wonderful new flyers filled with information. Two of the newest are: 1) California Telephone Access Program- a free program sponsored by the state. They will come to you to share their newest phones. Pick up a flyer and give them a call. 2) Homemaker, Chore & Personal Care Service Programs- sponsored by Area 12 Agency on Aging. 

Note also the NEW transit schedule effective 7/6/15; Dial-a-Ride (209-267-9395) will do curb-to-curb for individuals who are unable to ride the regular fixed-route bus service. Amador Rides (209-267-9395) is a volunteer service to take individuals to medical appointments in Lodi, Sacramento and Placerville. Any questions, give Joan Von der Heiden a call (209-267-5460).
Food Bank Donations
The Food Bank's cart, in the sanctuary, yielded 134 lbs. of food in July. Total giving in 2015 so far: 1,146 lbs. 

Plus, we collected 3656 lbs. of food and $1025 during the June Food Drive!

 Let's keep up the good work!
Ultreya Reminder

Any Cursillistas or anyone interested in Cursillo is invited to the monthly meeting of the Sutter Creek Ultreya on Saturday, August 22 at 10:30am in Jane's Hall, for a potluck brunch, prayers, music and fellowship.  For further information call Gerry or Nancy at 267-5182 or Janet at kendig@volcano.net. 
Trinity Singers Rehearsals
All are invited to join the Trinity Singers/Worship Team! Rehearsals are the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 7PM. Bring your voices, your instruments, and a heart for worship and praise! For more information, please contact Carol Harper at 916-604-1872 or email carol@worshipattrinity.com. Web site: WorshipAtTrinity.com.
August Birthdays
The following members of our church family are celebrating birthdays in August!
     
5th- Joy Blair
6th- Rolly Matson
10th- Rosalie Escamilla
  10th- Teddy West
  14th- Noreen Lafferty
  17th- Alexis Lewis
 

If you are celebrating a birthday in August, but you don't see your name listed here, please contact our Parish Administrative Asst.
Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter?
If you have an article of interest to the congregation that you would like included in the newsletter, please email it to the office,office@trinitysuttercreek.org by the 20th of the month. It will be included in the next month's newsletter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sermon: The Church of the 21st Century

The Church of the 21st Century   Readings: 2 Sam. 7:1-14; Mark 6:30-34; 53-56     Proper11/B
By the Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA   7/19/15

            When you hear the word church, what image or images come to mind?  Maybe you think about the larger denomination like the Roman Catholic Church or the Episcopal Church headed by a hierarchy of bishops. Maybe you think about a group of people who come together on Sundays for worship and fellowship.  Or perhaps you imagine highly enlightened people whose minds have been transformed and who share their lives in service to others. But for most folks, the word church often conjures up an image of a building where a community of faith gathers together.  Perhaps you picture in your mind a white wooden building with a steeple or a grand cathedral with frescos on the wall or a modern concrete structure in the round. If your image of the church is focused on a building, you can probably relate to King David who longed to build the first Jewish Temple some 3000 years ago.
            In today’s first reading from the Bible, King David wants to build a permanent structure to store the Ark of the Covenant.  It currently resides in a tent. This Ark (or fancy chest) contains the tablets of the 10 commandments along with some other precious religious treasures.  At that time, it was believed that God was especially present in this Holy Ark along with the other sacred items. During times of war, the Israelites would bring this Ark into battle for protection as if God were going before them into battle.  Now that the Israelites are experiencing a time of relative peace, the Ark is sitting in its tent.  King David feels that it is time to dish out some big bucks to build a temple for God.
            But the truth is, God doesn’t want a temple built and says:  “You’re going to build a house for me to live in?  Why, I haven’t lived in a house from the time I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt till now.  All that time, I’ve moved about with nothing but a tent.” (2 Sam. 7-The Message)   So David delays the building of the temple.  But some 40 years later, his son Solomon, builds the 1st temple.  It was destroyed 370 years later by the Babylonians who sacked the city of Jerusalem.  The second temple was built at the end of the 6th century BCE, until the Romans finally destroyed it in 70 AD.
            During the 7th century, the Muslins conquered Jerusalem and built the Dome of the Rock on the temple mount.  This site is probably the most contested piece of property in the world and continues to incite protest and violence between Jews and Muslims.  Since that time, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists have built many temples, cathedrals, shrines, and churches as a sign of their faith in God.  But I wonder if this is really God’s will or simply a human need.  Perhaps, a simple tent would do.
            The early Christians did not have church buildings.  Instead, several families and individuals would gather together in a home each Sunday to have a meal, to break bread together, to pray, to read the Scriptures, to sing psalms, to hear the good news, and to support one another in their lives in Christ.  And then during the week, they would roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and helping the marginalized.  Instead of waiting for people to come to them, they went out into their neighborhoods and villages to meet people where they were. Christianity began to flourish not because of its buildings but because of the compassion that the baptized community showed toward those who were suffering.
            While I believe that having a church building in which to pray, have fellowship, and do ministry is very important in gathering a community of faith together, I do not think of the church as simply a building.  To me, the Church is “the Body of Christ” first and foremost.  As part of this body of Christ, we come together having promised in baptism to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving their neighbors as themselves.  Paul tells us that the temple of the Holy Spirit is within us, and it is holy indeed.  It is this temple first and foremost that needs careful maintenance and attention if we are to grown in love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation. 
            As you know, the Episcopal Church and other Christian churches are diminishing in size as our congregations age.  Many folks worry about what will happen to our buildings.  The younger generations no longer feel a need to gather together in an established community of faith and so like the early Christians, God is calling us to venture outside our buildings and meet people where they are.  In response to this change in our culture, our new presiding bishop of the United States, Michael Curry, has laid out a vision for Episcopal Churches everywhere.  He is calling us to return to our early roots and reclaim our share in the Jesus Movement.  This means that we walk as Jesus walked.  We serve those kind of people that Jesus served.  We preach the good news that Jesus preached.  And like him, we spend time in prayer so that we can be transformed into the people that God wills for us to be.  Bishop Curry’s plan to reclaim our share in the Jesus Movement is three fold.
1.        Evangelism.  Evangelism means teaching and preaching the good news in Christ.  This does not mean we go around hitting people on the head with the bible.  But it does mean we speak the truth in love.  We live in world that is so polarized.  The divide between the rich and the poor is getting bigger.  CEO’s are making millions of dollars and very little of the money is trickling down.  We live in a world where racism, sexism, and the trafficking of women and children are rampant in society.  People and nations are in debt, the planet is being polluted, depression is epidemic, and wars and violence are breaking out everywhere.  Do we have a word from God that speaks to this chaos and dysfunction?  I believe we do and it includes words like compassion, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, generosity, and unity.  It was Jesus’ vision that one day, we would all be one.  This is the good news that needs to be proclaimed by us.  This is the voice that needs to drown out the greed and the hate speeches that destroy the creatures of God.
2.        Focus on Christian formation- becoming disciples for Christ. This is perhaps the most overlooked function of the Church. One of the greatest criticisms of the Christian Church in the last century is that we have taught people about Christianity rather than teaching them how to be transformed.  Transformed people, transform the world.  We need to heal; to rise above our self-serving interests and be a part of turning the human race into the human family. Until our character, our mind, and attitude are transformed, it will be difficult to complete the mission of the church which is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”(BCP 855)
3.      Finally, as followers of Jesus, we need to witness our faith by serving others and lifting up our voices for justice, peace, and the dignity of every human being.  Faith without works is dead.  So where do we begin? Let’s take a closer look at the gospel, which spells it all out.

            In today’s reading, the apostles have just returned from a mission trip.  They’ve preached repentance (putting on a new mind/turning toward the light).  They’ve healed the sick and cast out demons.  So after their hard work, Jesus insists that they go to a quiet place to pray, to recharge, to connect with God.  Jesus knew that without regular spiritual sustenance, they would wear out and be unable to serve effectively. The God behind us is always much greater than the problem ahead of us.  And so it is this power of God that we need to channel.
            When Jesus went ashore, the crowds hurried on foot to meet him.  And in spite of his fatigue, he had compassion for them.  Compassion is Jesus’ attitude towards human beings.  Compassion is at the core of being a disciple of Christ.  The gospels tell us that Jesus had compassion for the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  He had compassion for them for they were harassed and helpless.  He had compassion for them because they were hungry.  He had compassion for those who had lost a loved one and for those who were sick and in need of healing.  Compassion is at the core of all of the great religions of the world.  It means to suffer with, to have unconditional solidarity with those in need.   The Church is at its best when its people show compassion in our profoundly threatened world.  It is compassion that ultimately builds up the true church, not nails or numbers.

            To the crowds who were like sheep without a shepherd, Jesus taught them a better way.  To those who were sick, he healed them.  To those who were discouraged, he gave them hope. This is the new model for the church of the 21st century where younger generations are like sheep without a shepherd.  However, be aware.  These generations of younger folks live in a hidden world of pain.  Whether they know it consciously or not, they are in great need of the church, the body of Christ. Deep inside, they are longing to touch the fringe of those who carry the spirit of Christ within, those who will take the time to be present, those who are willing to suffer with, those who have a word of hope for a broken world.  It seems to me that if we want to thrive into the next century and become a vital church, we need to reclaim our share in the Jesus’ movement by becoming his hands and feet in the world, having compassion for the crowds, and sharing the good news in Christ. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sermon: Embracing Our Prophetic Voice - Reverent Karen Siegfriedt

Embracing our Prophetic Voice    Readings: Amos 7:7-15; Mark 6:14-29     Proper 10/B
By the Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA   7/12/15

            Have you ever lived in a house or rented an apartment where the doors get stuck or it is difficult to open the windows?  Maybe you have seen a poorly constructed retaining wall that gave way during a rainstorm or a gutter that broke away from its down spout.  Last week in Sacramento, a young man was killed when a stairway collapsed in an apartment complex.  While the investigation is going still going on, the cause was probably dry rot, shoddy construction, and delayed maintenance, all of which could have been avoided. 
There is no need for poor construction but people often take short cuts.  Builders have all the tools they need to insure the integrity of their efforts.  These include tools like a level which determines if a surface is flat or even.  An angle, which determines if a corner is square.  A plumb line consisting of a small mass of lead hung on a string, providing a vertical reference point to make sure a wall or building is straight up and down. 
            In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos has a vision of God standing next to a wall with a plumb line in his hand.  God however has a different use for the plumb line than the integrity of the wall.  God is concerned about the integrity of the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and is setting a religious and ethical plumb line in their midst.  Without a doubt, the people are off kilter and fail to measure up to this ethical plumb line.  As a result, God will judge them for their unfaithfulness.
Amos becomes God’s messenger and travels to the temple in Bethel to communicate some harsh words of warning.  But instead of listening to this word of God, its priest, Amaziah, is insulted and intimidated.  He tells Amos to go home and never come back.  Like John the Baptist who lost his head for speaking up against King Herod some 750 years later, there are many other courageous souls in the bible whose voices are silenced by those in power.
Prophetic words often make us feel uncomfortable.  After all, who wants to be challenged for the way we live our lives?  And because most prophets are resisted or treated poorly, we ourselves often remain silent when we see injustice and unrighteousness being played out in our families and society.  So what I would like to do today is to inspire all of us to move from a place of fear to a place of confidence by embracing our prophetic voice.  Every time we speak up, every time we speak the truth in love, every time we point out injustice and unkindness, we are adding our prophetic voice to the universe, making a difference in the world in which we live.  Let’s take a closer look at the prophet Amos who can become our inspiration.
Amos lived in the Southern Kingdom of Israel, in the small town of Tekoa, about 8 miles south of Bethlehem.  He was not a professional prophet but rather raised cattle and pruned trees.  During this time in history (around 750 BCE), the Northern Kingdom of Israel was experiencing relative peace and economic prosperity under the leadership of King Jeroboam II.  The more elite people in the North became very wealthy and began to lead a luxurious life.  Unfortunately, this unusual prosperity brought a collapse of moral standards.  Many ignored the commandments of the Torah to help the poor and to practice justice and loving kindness.  Might was right, the poor were trampled on, and the society became corrupt.  Sex and religious shrines were being built and idolatry was at an all-time high.  It was into this context that Amos, sheep herder and dresser of sycamore trees, was called by God to go to Bethel to announce God’s judgment on the people.  It didn’t go over very well but Amos held his ground against the religious hierarchy & elite in spite of being an ordinary man.
Amos told the people that their sex and religious shrines would be knocked down, that military defeat would eventually come, and that Israel would be exiled.  Naturally, the crowd became angry and their priest Amaziah, incited the people to do violence against Amos.  But Amos did not back down and he continued to deliver his prophetic message.  While he boldly warned the people of their impending doom, he also reminded them of the many kindnesses which God had shown them since the beginning of their history as the chosen people.  And because they were God’s chosen people, God demanded a higher standard of them. 
So that was then, what about now?   Since Amos’ time, there have been many plumb lines that have been placed before us, reference points that help determine the straight and narrow for the way we govern our society, live out our family relationships, and conduct our spiritual lives.   For instance:
-           The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of our country, a plumb line for promoting justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty.
-          Our marriage vows make up a plumb line which attempts to stabilize our most cherished relationship: “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until parted by death.”
-          Our baptismal covenant reminds us how to be a faithful Christian:  “To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.”
-          In more recent times, the Charter for Compassion is a plumb line that calls us to treat others as we wish to be treated:  “To work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody without exception with absolute justice, equity, and respect.”   
-          And last month, Pope Francis came out with his latest encyclical, Laudato Si, which calls all people of the world to take "swift and unified global action" on environmental degradation.
So what are the plumb lines that you hold near and dear to your heart?  Are you willing and ready to raise your prophetic voice when you notice the moral and ethical fiber of our society being compromised? 
-          John the Baptist did when he criticized King Herod for stealing his brother’s wife.
-          The prophet Amos did when he defended the downtrodden poor and accused the powerful rich who used God’s name to legitimize their sin.
-          Mark Felt did in 1973 when he exposed the Watergate scandal which toppled Nixon’s presidency.
-          Frank Serpico did, a NYC police officer who confronted the rampant corruption within the police department.
-          Jeffrey Wigand did, a former tobacco executor who exposed cigarette companies on “60 Minutes” for packing their products with addictive levels of nicotine.
-          Sherron Watkins did by exposing Enron Company in 2001 for their enormous financial lies and frauds.
-          Edward Snowden did when two years ago, he revealed the global surveillance programs of the NSA.
-          And this week, the prophetic voice resounded once again when Rep. Jenny Horne of South Carolina faced the House of Representatives who were afraid to confront their conservative supporters by removing the Confederate Flag. These are the words she spoke to her fearful colleagues: “I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday. For the widow of Sen. Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury.”
Some of these people are considered heroes, others traitors, but all of these people had the courage to speak up and expose deceit, injustice, corruption, and fraud.  And because we have all promised to strive for justice, peace, and the dignity of every human being, we too are called to use our prophetic voices to do likewise.  But for most of us, speaking up will not be a national media event but rather a consistent posture in life.  It may be a moment when we report a broken sprinkler head to our neighbor, reminding them of the water shortage.  It may be a time when we see teenagers littering the park and let them know how important a clean and beautiful park is to the common good.  It may be giving a friend who is depressed a reference to a good psychologist.  It may be standing up for someone who is being insulted at work or bullied at school. It may be a simple letter of protest to our governing officials.  Our prophecy can happen anywhere and anytime. 
I want to end with a famous quote from Martin Niemöller who was a prominent Protestant pastor.  He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps because he was an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler:  “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

May God give us the wisdom to know and understand what things we ought to do and the grace and the power to accomplish them.  All this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.   (Collect of the day, BCP 231)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Protecting the Freedom of Planet Earth to Thrive

Protecting the Freedom of Planet Earth to Thrive   Readings: Ex. 2:1-5; Mark 6:1-13   Prop. 9/B

By the Rev. Karen Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA  7/5/15

        Do any of you have a hummingbird feeder?  If so, you have probably observed the habits and characteristics of these small but mighty birds.  We have two hummingbird feeders at our house that are usually inhabited by about three dozen local birds.  The hummingbirds here in Amador County are different from those in the Bay Area, at least the ones at our house are.  They are a bit scruffy, dull in color, and often have bumps or imperfections on their beaks.  These birds are of called “Anna’s hummingbirds” and they have formed a rather harmonious colony on Argonaut Drive.  What stands out most for me with this species is their generous nature and how each is permitted to take a turn at the feeder.  The younger birds are given special status and are allowed to linger for longer periods of time.  Often, two hummers share the same perch or hover above, waiting for their turn.  There is no dominator at the center and the birds seem to share equally, believing that there is enough food for all. 
That is until April or May when there is a temporary migration of “Rufus hummingbirds.”  These birds tend to be prettier in color but greedier in nature.  When the Rufus hummers fly in, there is often a dominator who tries to scare off the locals, hoarding the feeder as if there is not enough food for all.  In this posture of dominance, the interconnectedness of the colony is disturbed and the local hummers cope the best they can until the Rufus clan moves on.  As I watch these hummers function, I am reminded of the difficulty we are having in our world today as 20% of the population dominates the economy and uses up 80% of the natural resources.  As Americans, we seem to be demanding more, bigger, better, and faster at the cost of human dignity for poorer people and nations.  We have caused Mother Earth to suffer as we contribute to her pollution and degradation because of our greed and extravagant lifestyles. What I would like to talk about today is planet earth and protecting its freedom to thrive.  I will use Pope Francis’ recent encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise be to You) as my text.
        The Encyclical takes its name from the invocation of St. Francis, “Praise be to you, my Lord”, in his Canticle of the Creatures.  It reminds us that the earth, our common home “is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”. We have forgotten that “we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”  Now, this earth, mistreated and abused, is lamenting, and its groans join those of all the forsaken of the world. Pope Francis invites us to listen to them, urging each and every one – individuals, families, local communities, nations and the international community – to an “ecological conversion”.  This is a conversion of the heart, a conversion of our lifestyle where we change direction by taking responsibility for the care of our common home, planet earth.  (Pope Francis-Laudato Si)
        During our 4th of July celebrations, we often speak about freedom:  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Our forefathers fought for these freedoms and many of us continue to strive for justice, peace, and the dignity of every human being. And while we as a nation are becoming more generous in granting other people their inalienable rights, we seem to hesitate when it comes to the protection and care of our land, water, air, and other creatures. In our unbridled exploitation of nature, we have denied the earth of its freedom to blossom.  Through our farming, mining, and manufacturing techniques, we are destroying our drinking water, degrading the quality of the air we breath, limiting biodiversity, and creating piles of waste that will harm the quality of life on earth for future generations.  So we need to ask ourselves some important questions to set the ecological crises in a proper perspective:
        “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”  “What is the purpose of our life in this world?”  “What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?”  “What need does the earth have of us?”  Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, which are all spiritual issues, we will not make much progress in protecting our planet from further ecological destruction.  It is to these spiritual issues that I would like focus on as we reflect on our duty as Christians to be good stewards of the creation over which God has given us responsibility.
        The way I see it is that there are two main problems.  The first is that we have disconnected ourselves from the rest of creation. We have placed ourselves at the center of universe and used our human freedom in ways that are not only greedy but have also harmed the other creatures who inhabit the planet with us. “Creation is harmed when we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone.  The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves.”  “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection…and reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness”.  We must respect this particular goodness of every creature if we are to be faithful to our God-given duty to be good stewards of the earth.
        The second problem is our excessive consumption. We have too much stuff!  The earth is a finite planet. There is a limit on how large the economy can grow before it uses up all of our resources. In our cravings to have bigger, better, faster, and more, we keep on consuming without ever being satisfied. We have become a throw away society where we dispose large amounts of unwanted stuff in garbage dumps.  30% of the food that is produced ends up being thrown away.     
        “The market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products and people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending.”  These markets and our current global situation engender a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which then creates a void in the human heart, a void that is always craving for more.  When people feel empty, they become more self-centered and self-enclosed and their greed increases.  “The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own, and consume.”  Can you imagine what would happen to the health of our planet if the 7.3 billion people on this earth demanded as much stuff, used the same amount of electricity, drove as many miles, and demanded the same standard of living that we have?  We would implode in a short time and wars would break out everywhere, fighting for the limited resources.
        So what are we to do?  I believe that there are three avenues of hope.  The first is a technological solution, which is the easiest to achieve.  We need to pursue alternate sources of energy like wind and solar.  We need to make our farming, mining, and manufacturing processes cleaner, more efficient, and more restrictive in order to minimize pollution.  We need to learn how to recycle our waste products.  We need to put an end to cheap products and produce quality over quantity.  All of these are achievable if we choose to prioritize quality of life over making money.
        The second avenue of hope is a change in lifestyle where people reduce the carbon footprint of their daily living and return to a simplified way of life.  We need “to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which entails learning to give and not simply to give up.  It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs.  It is liberation from fear, greed, and compulsion.”  A simplified life means that we only buy things that we need. It means we learn to give things away and stop hoarding.  We need to learn how to enjoy things without having to buy them, which means that we share and borrow rather than buy and store.  And in our economy of spending, we will have enough to share our bounty with those who have less.  We also need to develop an appreciation for our creation by rejecting food products and consumer goods that cause the oppression of anyone, including all of God’s creatures.
        The third avenue of hope is a deepening of our faith with God our Creator.  According to the first biblical account of creation, God saw everything that God had made and behold, “it was very good.”  This included the waters, the sky, the planets, the fish, the birds, the vegetation, the animals, and last but not least, human beings.  And if it was good enough for God, then these things must be good for us too.  “Human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationship: with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth itself…These three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us.  This rupture is sin.  The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitation.  This in turn distorted our mandate to have dominion over the earth and to till it and keep it. (Genesis 1-3)  As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual.”    
        Today, as our Planet Earth groans with pain, our spiritual task is to heal this brokenness and to honor both the Creator and the creation.  And so we gather together each Sunday as a Christian community to repent of our self-indulgent appetites, to be inspired by the gospel, and to connect with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  According to our catechism, “we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.”  (BCP 852)
            The good news is, it is not too late.  There is still hope. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. No one has the right to take it from us.”
        The ecological crisis calls us to a profound interior conversion. Some of us will heed this call and repent of our waste and pollution of God’s creation and our lack of concern for those who come after us.  Others will remain rebellious and stubborn like the people to whom the prophet Ezekiel was sent.  Some will not listen to the prophetic cries of environmental activists and ignore or deny the consequences of climate change.  These are the one’s who are stuck in old ways, like the folks in today’s gospel who took offense at Jesus.  Some will ridicule the many expressions of concern for the environment as being lofty and impractical.  Others will remain simply passive, choosing not to change their habits.
        But we are different from those who are rebellious and stubborn.  We are children of the Light who have promised to walk in the Light.  We have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who will lead us into all truth and enable us to grow in the likeness of Christ.  And so we open our heart, mind, and soul to an ecological conversion whereby our encounter with Jesus Christ becomes evident in our relationship with all of the created order.  Only then will our planet earth have the freedom to thrive.        (Unless otherwise stated, quoted items are taken from Laudato Si by Pope Francis)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trinity Tidings - July 2015

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Trinity Tidings
The E Newsletter of Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek

July 2015

In This Issue
Rector's Report
Did You Know?
Message from the Sr. Warden
Food Drive Success
Article Headline
Care Bags Available
Cookies!
School Supply Collection
Food Bank Donations
Ultreya Reminder
Trinity Singers Rehearsals
Birthdays this month
Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter
Quick Links...
Dear Carol, 

   


  
Rector's Report for July     

 There are so many changes going on in the world today, some of which are planned and some of which are not.  The way we do health care, internet shopping, social media, rules about marriage, and even the ways we communicate are changing.  The Christian Church is also changing.  In previous generations, the church was a prominent part of society:  "Here's the church, here's the steeple, open the doors and there's all the people."  But since our younger generations are seeking spiritual nourishment in other places, membership in traditional churches is in decline. 

On a national scale, the face of the Episcopal Church is also changing.  At one time, our church was made up of the mostly "well-to-do."  Today, our Church is more diverse and inclusive as it reaches out to those on the margins.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is currently meeting in Salt Lake City.  Every three years, deputies and bishops and other concerned Episcopalians (usually about 6000 in all) meet for two weeks to make important decisions and changes that are needed in a changing society.  Like all other mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church is in the midst of a profound "J" Curve.  "There are many changes happening both within and around the church.  These changes initially create instability and so it is only natural to hear people say, "I wish we could go back to the way things used to be."  But it is not possible to go backwards on the "J" Curve. Growth requires going forward, forward to a new expression of stability and a new expression of what it means to be the church in the world today." (The Living Compass)




"The "J" Curve, pictured above, has a vertical axis showing "Stability" and a horizontal axis showing "Openness/Growth."  The dotted line shows the trajectory we would like to see when positive change is planned and freely chosen.  We expect that such change will put us on a path where each day we will feel better than the day before.  While we may expect positive, planned change to follow this path, the reality is that all change, even positive change, initially creates a period of instability.  This is shown perfectly by the "J" Curve as it illustrates that the initial movement toward openness and growth is accompanied by an initial decrease in stability."  (The Living Compass)
Over the past seven years, Trinity Church has experienced many changes, both planned and unplanned.  For some, these changes are welcomed and for others, they cause stress.  A few weeks ago, your vestry met in June to plan some needed changes in our buildings and grounds.  We call this plan:  Repair, Renew, and Rejoice!  It is a small capital campaign intended to raise enough funds to address delayed maintenance.  Please pick up a brochure in the back of the church that explains these projects.  After reading, please make a difference by making a pledge to support this campaign.  Call upon your vestry or myself with any questions or input you may have.

Two safety issues are at the top of our list:  1) Replace the fuse box in Jane's Hall and redistribute the load.  2) Repair our parking lot to prevent future trip hazards and to address the three pot holes and multiple cracks that are allowing water to slowly destroy the sublayer.  Unfortunately, simply resealing the surface will not correct this problem.
       



One of the strategic plans of this congregation was to strengthen the bonds of friendship within our parish community.  To that end, we are trying to make upgrades in the parish hall to enhance our coffee hour.  First, we want to make it easier to volunteer to clean up and so we have proposed installing a dishwasher that will clean heavily soiled trays. It will also save water.  We want to reduce the noise in Jane's Hall so we have proposed installing acoustical tiles as well as opening the doors to the outside to enjoy the patio.  An umbrella, table, and chairs have already been donated.

We have listed the projects we want to complete in the order of priority, putting safety first.  Listed at the end of the brochure, are the many gatherings and events that require no further financing but add to our rejoicing as a community of faith.  These include:  Bowling for Belly-laughs (8/2), Poolside Barbeque (8/22), Trinity Picnic (10/18), Parade of Lights (12/12).

So rejoice and be glad for God has given us a treasure:  The community of Trinity Church in Sutter Creek!  "Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family.  Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent.  Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Book of Common Prayer 817)

Peace and blessings,

Pastor Karen Siegfriedt+

Photos of Activities at Trinity in June: 

Vestry Retreat 2015

Vestry eating breakfast!

Using the defibrillator and practicing CPR at Trinity

Collecting food at Safeway for the Interfaith Food Bank

Did You Know? 
- July 3rd:  All invited to celebrate at the rectory.  7:30pm Food; 8:00travelogue; 9:15 Fireworks.  Please RSVP and don't forget to bring a chair.
- Bible Study on July 5th at 9:40 on the gospel of John. Chapters 4 & 5.
Next Health Ministry meeting on Saturday, July 11th at 9:00am in Jane's Hall.
- The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, bishop of North Carolina, was elected as the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.
- A new church directory is out. Leaders should check their mailbox at church. Extra copies are available at the back of the church.

From the Senior Warden:

Your vestry has responded to the requests of the congregation concerning various aspects of the needs of the buildings and grounds. Individual vestry members have taken responsibility for investigating the problems, determining the costs, and creating a plan for implementation. After much discussion and prayerful consideration, the vestry prioritized these projects and recently presented them to the congregation via an informative brochure. They are available at the church or just call the office and one can be mailed to you. We have raised half of the total dollars needed as a result of several generous donations and the vestry is hopeful that all members of the congregation will contribute, as resources allow, to the capital project fund. It is an investment into the continued well being of this church.
Keith Sweet
209-419-3770

Food Drive Success!
A special thanks to all the Trinity folks who came out to help with the food drive for the Interfaith Food Bank on June 26 and 27. We had 26 Trinity members, 7 Missio Team members, and 5 Food Bank volunteers for a total of 38 folks! And the results are in:  3656 pounds of food and 1025 dollars! (We did reach our goal of surpassing last year's total poundage of food by 359 pounds). Our community here at Trinity and in Amador County, is a most generous one. Many folks will not go hungry thanks to your great efforts.

Talents and Time?
Are you someone who has some time and you are just itching to get into a project to use your talents?  Well, the Master Task List for the church just might be what you are looking for!  This is the list of all the work projects, big and small, that have been noted around the property.  It includes everything from the routine 'spring and fall' cleaning we do on our work days to some more difficult tasks which could use your special talent!  The list is posted in the church office on a clip board hanging above and to the right of the counter.  Take some time after church one Sunday and take a look.  And, if you see other things around the church that need doing, just give your Junior Warden, Paul Lewis a call and he'll get that item added to the list.

We Care!

We still have Care Bags that, together, we filled with food and a few personal care items. These bags are meant to help us to be Christ's hands in the world by giving them to people we encounter who are hungry. Because we wanted to have a large supply of bags handy, there remain many that are available to you at church. Please remember to make sure that you have 1 or 2 in your car, ready to give someone in need. Thank you! Nancy Moore

Choices for a Better Today and a Better Tomorrow
I so enjoyed Sunday's (6/28) conversation about conscious health decisions and the kinds of things that have informed people's thinking about why they make the choices they do regarding medical care. As I listened to Pastor Karen's sermon and then as people spoke of their own experiences I was moved to share. By the time I had put my thoughts together, the time for speaking had passed. I still wanted to share and realized that the monthly newsletter would be coming out soon. What better way to keep the conversation going!

 The sermon and conversation left me with two specific areas of thought. The first being my own experience with a near death experience; how that looked, how it looks today, and what I suspect it may look like in the future. The second thought has to do with the choices I make today and how those choices will definitely be different later in my life.

 In 2001, at age 33, I had a routine outpatient surgery that left me on life support. It was a terrifying ordeal and having had good health up until that time and no reason to suspect anything would go wrong, I had prepared nothing with regard for instruction on how to deal with a life or death situation should it ever arise. Given the chance to go back in time, I would have made the same choices about my health as were made on my behalf. I had a 15 year old, a 2 1/2 year old, and an 8 month old at that time. I would have done anything necessary to make sure I was with them as long as I could possibly be. Having said that, let me also say that being on life support was the most difficult and challenging experience I've ever had and to have to make the choice to do it again will always weigh heavily on my mind. After nearly 15 years, the memories of the experience still create anxiety for me. While I can't be sure exactly how I would respond today to an emergency situation, I do know that if a ventilator were ever the long term option, it is not an option I would choose. The idea of leaving my loved ones grieves me deeply. The idea of being confined to a machine for life terrifies me more.

 I don't know how my thinking and choices might evolve over time. What I do know is that the conversation about health care options is one that will continue in our household and with our children very openly. It is a conversation that I will continue to initiate with people of all ages and health statuses. We are never too young or too healthy. The unexpected comes... unexpectedly!  I will continue to talk because while I don't know how I will feel at each stage in my life, I do know that I want the people around me to be aware of where I stand in the moment. I want my family and friends to know what I would want them to do should I not be able to speak for myself. 


The second piece of the conversation that struck me was the sharing of the recommendation that people know their surroundings so as to stave off a broken hip or some such accident that might complicate or create a secondary health concern. My situation offers me a similar and yet different perspective. As a result of my auto-immune disease I take very large doses of blood thinners each day. A relatively small accident poses a very large danger in my day-to-day living. As a result, I am cautious....far too cautious than my active, adventurous, high-energy, personality would like. It is one of the many life changes that occurred with my diagnoses. At this point, I am willing to alter my life so as not to risk too much by way of "foolish" behavior or even mild behaviors that could end in broken bones; rock climbing, motorcycling, skiing, and the like. So I wait. I wait for the day when I feel safe enough to be dangerous. For now, I follow my spiritual disciplines, I listen for God's leading and I respond. I know my life's purpose and I work toward fulfilling it. A part of that purpose is to one day live less cautiously, more freely. When that time comes, my family and friends will know the consequence of my risk taking and they will know exactly what my expectations are regarding the way I choose to live from that time forward. Being aware of and willing to consider the consequences of the various choices we make offers us a real power and strength over how our lives unfold in both sickness and in health. I intend to honor and steward the strength that God gave me in the gift of this body.
 
Margaret Lewis

Back Pack 2 School Program
The Back Pack 2 School Program provides backpacks and school supplies for students from financially stressed families who are going into grades K-12 living in Amador County.

We at Trinity have a collection box with a supply list in Jane's Hall. You are invited to participate in making going back to school better for students right here in our community.

Please have your contributions- whether supplies, backpacks, books or $ (which can be made by check with "Back Pack 2 School" in memo)- by SUNDAY JULY 27. Contact Janet, kendig@volcano.net with questions.

Food Bank Donations

The Food Bank's cart, in the sanctuary, yielded 136 lbs. of food in June.

Total giving in 2015 so far: 1,012 lbs. 

 Let's keep up the good work!

Ultreya Reminder


Any Cursillistas or anyone interested in Cursillo is invited to the monthly meeting of the Sutter Creek Ultreya on Saturday, July 25 at 10:30am in Jane's Hall, for a potluck brunch, prayers, music and fellowship.  For further information call Gerry or Nancy at 267-5182 or Janet at kendig@volcano.net. 

Trinity Singers Rehearsals
All are invited to join the Trinity Singers/Worship Team! Rehearsals are the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 7PM. Bring your voices, your instruments, and a heart for worship and praise! For more information, please contact Carol Harper at 916-604-1872 or email carol@worshipattrinity.com. Web site: WorshipAtTrinity.com.

July Birthdays

The following members of our church family are celebrating birthdays in June!
     
2nd- Jim Tscharner
4th- Michael Freeman
6th- Myrna Hammer
  6th- Richard Yocam
  18th- Nancy Moore
  23rd- Dorean Davis
  28th- Ray Farley
  31st- Steve Christensen


If you are celebrating a birthday in July, but you don't see your name listed here, please contact our Parish Administrative Asst.

Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter?
If you have an article of interest to the congregation that you would like included in the newsletter, please email it to the office,office@trinitysuttercreek.org by the 20th of the month. It will be included in the next month's newsletter.