Monday, September 21, 2015

Sermon: Expanding the Guest List - Rev. Karen Siegfriedt

Expanding the Guest List   Reading: Mark 9:30-37   Proper 20/B
By the Rev. Karen Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA  9/20/15

            Jesus said:  “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” {Mk. 9}
            Have you ever had to make up a guest list, deciding whom to invite and whom to leave off the list?  It can be quite difficult especially when space and resources are limited.  I remember my first invitation to a relative’s wedding.  Initially, the invitation was made to my parents but for some reason, my father could not attend.  The family throwing the wedding party was frugal and had some very strict limitations.  The guest list included immediate family, best friends of the bride and groom, and relatives extending only to first cousins.  Since I did not fit any of these criteria, an exception was made so that my mother did not have to attend alone.  Sometimes, guest lists are limited because of financial concerns while at other times they are limited to only “the fun people.”  You know, those people who are extroverted, interesting, and exciting.  Because people often use Facebook to invite guests to events, you can preview those who have accepted the invitation.  That way, you can decide ahead of time whether there are enough “cool people” coming to the event to justify your time.
            A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the White House guest list for Pope Francis’ visit next week.  It seems that the Vatican has taken offence at the administration’s invitation of several folks who are deemed inappropriate for the papal visit.  These guests include a transgendered activist, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, and an activist nun who endorsed a national health bill that would require Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives to those employees requesting them as part of their health care plan. 
            As you can imagine, this guest list has caused a kerfuffle.  On the one hand, many view this guest list as being “a rude gesture” that would surround the pope with dissidents who disagree with Catholic teachings.  On the other hand, the guest list, which consists of over 15,000 people, includes a few marginalized folks who are representative of the diverse population of the United States.  Should the Obama administration back down and dis-invite these guests or should it hold its ground and include the full diversity of the American people?  Since the guest of honor is a Christian religious leader, I think we should ask:  What would Jesus do?  Let’s take a look at today’s gospel story to see if we can get any insights on making up a guest list that would embrace the spirit of Christ.
            At this point in Mark’s gospel story, Jesus is passing through the region of Galilee, surrounded by his closest disciples. On the one hand, Jesus is being exclusive by not wanting anyone to know his where-abouts.  He is trying to spend some quality time teaching his disciples about the basic principles of compassion and to warn them about his future fate.  Instead of understanding that the kingdom of God is all about self-sacrifice, the disciples begin to argue about who among them is the greatest.  Can’t you imagine these 12 young men, arguing over who is bigger, better, smarter, and faster than the other?  Competition for power, wealth, and prestige infected all of the Middle Eastern cultures in the 1st century and the disciples were part of this mind set.  But Jesus rose above this conventional wisdom of his day.  He had a different vision for the world, which would lead to peace and harmony.  He said:  “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.  Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms he said:  Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” {Mk. 9:35-37}
            Now before you think this is a sweet Sunday school scene with meek and mild Jesus hugging a cute child with blue eyes, think again!  This was a radical statement that would have shocked his disciples and the culture of his day.  It is just as radical as the pope kissing the feet of a Muslim woman or embracing a transgendered child with tenderness.  As you might remember, a child in 1st century Palestine was regarded as a non-person or a not-yet-person.  Children were simply possessions of the father in the household until such time as they could be economically useful or bear children for the next generation.  Children and servants were of equal low-social status.  But to be the “servant of all” was to be the lowest servant on the totem poll; one who would be allowed to eat only what was left over after everyone else had eaten their full. 
            So imagine hearing Jesus tell his disciples that if they want to truly follow him, they must become “the servant of all.”  Who would want to follow such a teacher?  Why would anyone want to be part of a religious tradition where the first are last and the last become first?  Who wants to serve the lost, the lonely, the loser, and the left-behind?  The only reason I can think of for serving humanity in this sacrificial manner is because it is the only hope we have for a better world.  And without hope, the human heart would break.
            I am glad that Jesus taught his disciples to embrace the path of self-sacrifice and to serve the needy.  Imagine what would have happened during the Butte Fire if the operating principle had been “every man for himself!”  The firefighters would have abandoned ship when the flames got hot enough or endangered their lives.  People would have left town to get relief from the smoke, leaving those who were in harms way to fend for themselves.  Many animals would have been burned to death, unable to escape their confines or find a safe place.  In summary, without a posture of compassion and generosity, the inferno would have engulfed our county, leaving us traumatized and impoverished. 
            But that didn’t happen.  Immediately as the fire began to spread, the best of human nature (all that is good, honest, just, pure, and generous) sprung into action.  Fire fighters from all over the state rushed in to minimize the spread of the fire.  Many of them were fighting the fire while their own homes were at risk.  Hotels and campsites and businesses opened their arms to house the evacuees, while restaurants and stores donated food and supplies.  The Rancheria opened its doors, filling their halls, conference rooms, and parking lots with cots, tents, and cages for the animals.  Three times per day, they fed the evacuees while the Red Cross volunteers organized and triaged the rescue efforts.  People dropped off clothes, food, and money, while others comforted the sick, the frightened, and the homeless.  Others with trailers transported horses, sheep, and stray dogs while ranches and the Fair Grounds boarded them until the fire had passed.  Episcopal Relief and Development has sent money to our diocese to help in the recovery efforts while many others have donated money and services to the Butte Fire Donation & Community Support.  Jesus said:  “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”{Mk. 9}   This is what I observed in our greatest hour of need.  And for all of the outpouring of compassion, resources, and self-sacrifice, I give God thanks.
            But now that the fire is almost out, the refrigerators are restocked, and most have returned to their daily routines, will this posture of self-sacrifice and generosity continue?  Now that things have settled down, will we continue to care for the victims of the fire or have compassion for the needy?  It is difficult to sustain a concerted effort of giving over a long period of time.  This kind of caring requires something that is greater than our ego strength alone.  It requires the grace of God, a power that can transform us into the generous disciples that Jesus calls us to be.  That is why belonging to a church community is important.  We are part of a tradition that reminds us of our higher calling to be people of compassion and self-sacrifice. By encouraging us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we grow stronger in caring for others, ourselves, and the earth.  Our sacraments offer us grace in the face of trial.  Instead of having a narrow focus, we become more committed in building a global community where people of all ages, races, nations, and ideologies can live together in peace and health.
            Trinity Episcopal Church is one of those places of compassion.  We are an inclusive, spiritually dynamic, loving Christian family, sharing the good news of Christ with each other and the world.  Today, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary at this location on Hwy. 49, the golden nugget on the hill.  Trinity Church began as a mission in June of 1897 and finished construction of its small, white church in Sutter Creek four years later, where it served the faithful for almost a century.  By the 1990’s, the congregation had out-grown its church building and purchased the former Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where we are worshipping today.  And while our congregation has fluctuated in size and demographics, we have remained faithful to the great commandment to love God and to love our neighbor.  Whoever you are, wherever you are in your journey of faith, you are welcome here!

            In today’s gospel, Jesus emphasized a path of love, humility, and inclusivity.  He called his disciples to serve the helpless, the dependant, and those of low social status.  So what do you think Jesus would say about the White House guest list?  I think you already know the answer! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quenching the Fire of the Tongue! - Rev. Karen Siegfriedt

Quenching the Fire of the Tongue!
Reading: James 3:1-12    Proper 19/B
By the Rev. Karen Siegfriedt;
Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA  9/13/15

            I don’t know exactly what set off the Butte Fire here in Amador County, but I do know that it only takes a spark to get a fire going.  Here we are, into day #5 of a fire; a fire that has claimed over 65,000 acres, 15 structures, and is only 10% contained.  Thousands of families have been evacuated from their homes, many more thousands have lost power, and 3300 fire personnel have been called into duty.  There are 8 air tankers, 17 helicopters, 62 dozers, and 40 water tankers trying to put out a fire that has gotten out of control.  The fire is expanding in all directions.  Steep river drainages, high heat, low humidity, and dry grassy areas make it challenging for our firefighters.  It is a scary time for the people of this county and it is a stark reminder how easily things can get out of control if we are not careful.

            While we do not know exactly how the fire began, we do know what elements are necessary to sustain a fire: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source.   If you take one of these elements out of the equation, the fire will subside.  Let us continue to pray that this will happen soon and that all of the people who have been removed from their homes will be able to return in the near future.

            I have never been a direct victim of a fire.  I have never suffered burns or lost family or property.  But when I was a nurse, I was assigned two children who had suffered third degree burns all over their bodies.  One was a baby who had been burned in an accident.  The father had been standing over a barbeque that wasn’t heating up so he poured more lighter fuel onto the briquettes.  A fire traveled back to the can, which exploded in his hand.  He threw the can into the air in the direction of his wife who was holding the baby.  The mother died and the baby was rushed to Children’s Hospital.  Because burned victims are often in so much pain, many beg for mercy when their wounds are being treated.  That is why these folks are the most difficult patients for me because I have a hard time seeing others suffer, especially when the suffering is great. Whether it was empathy, sympathy, or stress, uncontrolled fire became my enemy.  So when I moved to California and saw all of the out-of-control fires being fought throughout the state, it disturbed my equilibrium.  In response, I continue to pray for all those who are affected by the fires, those who have lost their lives and property, those who fight the fires, and for all the wildlife and animals who are displaced or have died.  And I continue to pray for all of you who are affected by this Butte fire.  Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey of faith, please call on me and this community of faith if you need help.

            In today’s first lesson from the Bible, James compares our tongue to a fire:  “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire.”  It sure hits home to hear a comparison between a tongue that is out of control and a small fire that gets out of control.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Book of James, it is a book of practical wisdom.  If you’re the type who prefers to put your faith into action rather than think holy thoughts, this is the book for you.  For those of you whose spirituality is action based, this book of the bible is an inspiration.  The Book of James is summed up as follows:  Faith without works is dead!  If you read through the chapters, you will come across practical wisdom sayings, like:  “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” {James 1:19} “Religion that is pure and undefiled is this: To care for the orphan and the widow in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”{James 1:27} Do not make distinctions between the rich and the poor but treat both with respect. {James 2}  In later chapters there are insights about human conflict and judgment and the need to pray for one another and to anoint the sick.  Take the time to read the whole book and I guarantee that your heart will be touched and perhaps you may even be motivated, not to ask what Jesus would do but to actually do what Jesus would do as you follow in his footsteps.

            In today’s passage, James gives us some godly wisdom about how lethal the tongue can be if not carefully controlled.  “5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” {Chapter 3: Translation from the Message Bible}

            We have all heard wisdom sayings about controlling the tongue like:  “Loose lips sink ships.”  Jesus said: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” {Mt. 15}   Stefne Miller says: “If there's one area of me that the devil's got a hold of, it's my tongue.”  Words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace.   James does not offer us any easy fixes in controlling the tongue, probably because there aren’t any.  However, both the Christian and the Buddhist traditions offer us some ‘fire prevention’ advice when it comes to the tongue.  For Christians, right speech and careful conversation is part and parcel of a life lived in the Spirit of God. For the Buddhist, right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eight-fold path.  Here are a few insights from their tradition:
-          “Abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully.”
-          “Abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others.”
-          “Abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others.”
-          “Abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.” 
-          Positively phrased, this means we are to tell the truth, to speak carefully, to talk only when necessary, and speak words that encourage, not destroy.

            There are no easy fixes to taming the tongue just as there are no easy fixes in keeping California ‘fire free.’  It takes discipline, good habits, and practicing the wisdom of the ages.  When it comes to fire prevention, there are concrete actions we can take like clearing the land so there is at least 100 feet of defensible space, avoiding burn piles or open flames during the dry season, and never throwing cigarettes or matches on the ground.  Likewise, there is also plenty of wisdom out there on preventing the tongue from setting things ablaze. So in closing, I would like to offer a few suggestions:
-          Only speak that which is factual, true, beneficial, and necessary.   There is no place for idle chatter or gossip in the kingdom of God.
-          Learn to communicate honestly and tenderly.  Remember it takes 15 compliments to neutralize one harsh comment. 
-          Do not speak when angry or fearful because these emotions hinder us from being able to speak the truth in love.  Instead, wait till these emotions subside before opening your mouth.
-          If you need to correct someone (like your child, or an employee, or your spouse) ask yourself the following:  Is this the right time?  Do I speak of facts or am I simply reacting to hurt?  Do I speak gently or harshly?  Are my words profitable or not?  And do I speak with a kindly heart or from malicious intentions?
-          “Before speaking, ask yourself:  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  Does it improve upon the silence?  (Sai Baba)
-          Words can be medicines or they can also be poisons.  When our words bless, they lift others up.  When they curse, they can destroy people, reputations, and their futures.

            Ultimately, today’s passage from the Book of James calls on us to examine ourselves closely -- an examination focusing largely on the words that come out of our mouths.  To inadvertently set our world on fire by misuse of our tongue would be a crime against humanity just as many of the fires that have been lit in California are crimes against humanity.   There is a thin line between blessing and cursing.  May God give us the wisdom to know the difference! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Trinity invites you to celebrate National Back to Church Sunday - Sun Sept 20


Sermon: Be Open! Learning to Overcome Our Prejudices - Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt

Be Open! Learning to Overcome Our Prejudices    Readings: Mark 7:24-37; James 2:1-17    P17/B
By the Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA   9/6/15

            Black nylon stockings!  Need I say more???  We all know about those “kind” of girls who wore black nylons during the 1960’s.  They often teased their hair, wore their skirts a little too tight, chewed gum, were rough around the edges, and smoked in the high school bathrooms between classes. From my perspective, teenagers who wore black nylons engaged in risky behavior, were not very smart, would end up with low paying jobs, and would struggle in their marriages because of the men they dated.  But imagine me condemning a whole group of women to a bleak future simply because they preferred black stockings to flesh-colored ones?  It sounds ridiculous now, but that is how a prejudice is created.  It begins with a strong image, leads to a judgment, and then concludes with a prejudice.  For those who have power, their prejudice often elicits actions and attitudes that discriminate and hurt.

            Steph tells the story about her experience of a church in Modesto during the early 1960’s.  It was a time in American culture when people tended to dress up for church, some putting on airs to impress others.  There was one couple that showed up in denim overalls and farm clothes.  Judging they were poor migrants who worked the land, many nicely dressed parishioners turned up their noses at them, making distinctions between those people and themselves (e.g. not our kind dear!). Today’s passage from the Letter of James warns the early Christian congregation about this kind of discriminatory behavior:  “For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in” and you treat one better than the other, “have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” {James 2} As it turned out, those denim-overall-folks from Modesto were the richest and the most generous family in the entire parish.  You can’t judge a book by its cover!

            But who among us has never judged, or held a prejudice, or set up a boundary between them and us?  Maybe your judgments are against those from a different political party, stereotyping all Republicans as being self-centered, or judging Democrats as knee-jerk liberals who deny the realities of life.  Maybe you hold a prejudice against people of color, believing that they are more violent and less reliable than those who are white.  Maybe you are gender biased, believing that all women are weaker or could never pass the rigors of the Army Ranger test.  Maybe you have a strong image in your mind of a bearded Hasidic Jew or a woman wrapped up in a burqa that creeps you out and makes you fearful of people from other faith traditions.  If so, you are among the majority of people in the world who discriminate based on race, creed, color, nationality, religion, culture, political party or gender.

            Prejudice and discrimination lead to the deprivation of human rights and respect.  It is the cause of so many wars and acts of violence that are being perpetrated in the world today. We need to stop this kind of insane thinking if we ever hope to attain peace in our day.  Today I will focus on Jesus’ interaction with the Syrophoenician woman in the gospel story as a way of gaining spiritual insight on how to break down the boundaries that separate us.

            At this point in the gospel of Mark, Jesus is tired.  He has healed the sick, preached to the crowds, and fed the 5000.  Now he has decided to leave Galilee and hide out in gentile territory.  The people of Israel divided their world into two groups:  The Jews and the Gentiles; the clean and the unclean; the circumcised and the uncircumcised.  The bottom line was you were either in or out and the laws and customs of the tradition were to keep you segregated from outsiders.  This was the kind of mindset that Jesus had been born into.  And so when a foreign woman entered a house where Jesus was staying to ask him for help, he resisted.  The woman (from a Jewish viewpoint) had three strikes against her. She was Syrian, a gentile, and a pushy woman who didn’t know her place in society.  Her daughter was ill and she begged Jesus to heal her.  Instead of having compassion, he said to her:  “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”{Mk. 7:27}

            What just happened here?  Did Jesus just utter an ethnic slur?  Did he really call her daughter a dog?  Did he just refuse to heal this woman’s daughter because she was not a Jew?  Sure looks like it to me!  It was not uncommon for people back then to insult others by referring to them as animals.  We have all heard slurs like pig, ass, dog, and donkey!  But when we hear it from the mouth of Jesus, it is quite a shock!  Many Christians and commentators try to explain away this harsh speech from Jesus’ mouth while others struggle to understand what exactly is going on.  But I look at it as a wonderful opportunity for us to see how Jesus matured in his faith and overcame his prejudice.

            Oftentimes, there is some basis for prejudice.  Jesus was aware of the hardships of the Jewish farmers in 1st C Palestine who were forced to send much of their produce to feed the gentile cities of Phoenicia and surrounding areas.  Those city folks tended to have more money than the Jews so why should Jesus bother to reach out to them when so many of his own people were poor & suffering? 

            But there we go again, stereotyping an entire group of people, lumping them all together as if they were one and of the same.  This Syrophoenician woman had nothing to do with the unjust politics of the day or with how the Jewish farmers were forced to share their produce.  All this mother wanted was for her daughter to be healed.  She was desperate, pleading, and humble.  After Jesus called her a dog, she answered him:  “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  (Ouch!)  While in real life it would be wrong to feed the dogs food that the children needed, everyone knows that dogs are permitted to eat whatever the children drop under the table.  This woman, this outsider, is simply asking for crumbs, not the whole loaf.

            Jesus is touched by this encounter.  In fact, he is converted.  When he recognizes that the woman’s argument is stronger than his own, he grants her petition and heals the daughter.  It takes a face-to-face encounter with a real human being to overcome his prejudice. And while his primary mission remains with the people of Israel, he begins to share his gifts of healing more freely to those outside of his own people.  And in the end, it is the gentiles who seem to appreciate him most.

            It was not easy for a gentile woman to approach a Jewish teacher for help.  Yet her love for her child had brought her across boundaries of gender, religion, and ethnic origins.  This story, like many others in the New Testament, advocates breaking down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles, women and men, slave and free. And as disciples, we are being called to continue this work today. 

            This week, the Episcopal Church will stand in solidarity with the AME Church at the “Liberty and Justice for All” event in Washington D.C.  Racial reconciliation through prayer, teaching, engagement, and action is a top priority of our denomination.  As a symbol of this commitment, the Episcopal Church has designated this Sunday to confess, repent, and commit to ending racism and breaking down all boundaries, which separate and degrade the people of God.  

            As I was reflecting on this gospel story, my mind turned to Europe who is struggling to manage the largest wave of migration since WWII.  Millions of refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East are fleeing to their shores.  The reception is mixed.  On one end of the spectrum is the country of Hungry who is building razor sharp fences along their borders to keep them out.  On the other end of the spectrum are the people of Iceland, who are challenging their government to open its arms to more of these suffering souls. What is it that makes some people more open and compassionate to outsiders?

            I think back to Jesus and his encounter with a foreign woman asking for help.  At first he is resistant, even rude.  But as he takes the time to converse with her, hear her perspective, and acknowledge her suffering, he is converted.  He no longer sees her as the enemy or an outsider but as a woman in need, who loves her child and is seeking help.  Spending time with those who are different from us is how we learn to break down barriers. It doesn’t matter if they are black, yellow, white, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Syrian, or Icelandic.  All people have similar genetics, desires, and dreams for a hopeful future.  We all want to love and be loved.  When we take the time to listen carefully, to earnestly interact with the “outsider”, our hearts begin to open up with compassion.  It is then we are converted and willing to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.

            Twenty-two years after I graduated from High School, I was ordained to the priesthood.  On that day (as I recall), I was wearing a grey suit with black nylon stockings! 

“Grant O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  {Book of Common Prayer}  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Trinity Tidings - September 2015

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

September 2015

In This Issue
Rector's Report
Did You Know?
Message from the Sr. Warden
September at Trinity
Ministries Help Needed
Amador Council on Aging
Get Tuna!
Food Bank Donations
Fall Pizza Party
Ultreya Reminder
Trinity Singers Rehearsals
Birthdays this month
Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter
Quick Links...
 
Dear Carol, 
 
  
Rector's Report for September    
 
In the summer of 1995, the Trinity congregation moved from the small, quaint church in downtown Sutter Creek to its current location on Highway 49.  During the 1990's, the Trinity community experienced a growth spurt.  Because of this, it sold the old church property and moved up the hill to begin a new chapter in its history.  We are stewards of this church property and are trying hard to maintain its integrity.  Many of you have already contributed to the capital campaign (Repair, Renew, Rejoice) to fix and upgrade our church home.  We are now at 80% of our goal and will soon begin repairing the parking lot.  Thank you for your generosity.
 
Since that time back in 1995, many of our original parishioners have moved away or died.  It is hard to say good-bye to beloved members whose loss we mourn.  But as Christians, our gaze is not to remain fixed on the past but rather to look ahead to the future.  In his letter to the Church in Philippi, St. Paul said:  "Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."  To that end, the Missio:Engage team is coordinating with the Vestry, "Back to ChurchSunday."  This is a special opportunity to invite a friend or a non-churched neighbor to join us in worship on September 20th.    We are also using this special opportunity to celebrate the 20th year anniversary of moving to our Church Sanctuary, which has been recently painted.  I call our church building, "the golden nugget on the hill."  So please mark your calendar and celebrate with us, bringing as many guests as possible. Following each of the services, there will be a special celebration in Jane's Hall.
 
It is one thing to invite a guest to a worship service, but is another thing to truly welcome the stranger into our midst.  So how should we speak to newcomers and strangers in a way that is welcoming and friendly?  Thom Rainer (from Lifeway Christian Resources) suggests that we should say the following 7 things to our guests if we really want to grow our church and thrive into the future:
 
1. "Thank you for being here." It's just that basic. I have heard from numerous church guests who returned because they were simply told "thank you."
2. "Let me help you with that." If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, young children, diaper bags, purses and other items, a gesture to hold something for them is a huge positive. Of course, this comment is appropriate for member to member as well.
3. "Please take my seat." I actually heard that comment twice in a church where I was speaking in the Nashville area. The first comment came from a member to a young family of five who were trying to find a place to sit together.
4. "Here is my email address. Please let me know if I can help in any way." Of course, this comment must be used with discretion, but it can be a hugely positive message to a guest.
5. "Can I show you where you need to go?" Even in smaller churches, guests will not know where to find the nursery, restrooms and small group meeting areas. You can usually tell when a guest does not know where he or she is to go.
6. "Let me introduce you to ___________." The return rate of guests is always higher if they meet other people. A church member may have the opportunity to introduce the guest to the pastor, other church staff and other members of the church.
7. "Would you join us for lunch?" I saved this question for last for two reasons. First, the situation must obviously be appropriate before you offer the invitation. Second, I have seen this approach have the highest guest return rate of any one factor.
 
Most people who come to explore a church community in the 21st century are in transition or they are looking for community of support and friendship.  For many, community life is more important than the pastor's sermons, the music in the liturgy, and the structure of the church building.  Having "5 friends" in a church community meets 95% of a person's pastoral needs.  It is what encourages folks to come back and become active.  So take the time to reach out and touch someone.  What you do and say in welcoming the newcomer will determine the future health of our church.   

Yours in Christ,
 
Pastor Karen Siegfriedt+

Photos of Activities at Trinity in August: 
Bowling for Belly-Laughs:  38 bowlers, 7 cheerleaders,  
lots of fun!  
First Place Team:  The Shining Bowlers.
Repair, Renew, Rejoice: Capital Campaign 2015!
Electrician replacing the fuse box in Jane's Hall. 
A Trinity Outing: Folks gather together to attend a Taize Service in Sacramento.
Trinity Swim and Barbecue @ the Lafferty's
Health Ministry sponsors Public Forum @
Senior Center; Expanding End of Life Options
Did You Know? 
- The parking lot will be repaired on Friday, September 4th.  About one month later, it will be sealed and striped.
-  Back to Church Sunday is September 20. Invite someone to come with you to church that day!
- Check out the poster in the Parish Hall detailing the Fall Silent Retreat onSeptember 25-27 at St. Dorothy's Rest.  This is given by the Sisters of the Transfiguration.
- Our Church Picnic will be held on October 18th at Detert Park in Jackson.  One combined service starting at 10:30.  Bring a chair and a dish to share.  Hotdogs, hamburgers, and drinks are provided by your vestry.
- Alexis Lewis is going off to college and has handed the baton over to Laura Van Dusen as the weekly cleaning person.  Laura has worshiped with us in the past and is a resident of Jackson.
- The green banners in the church were donated by Bud and Linda Busch.
- Trinity Church is celebrating 20 years at its current location this month!
From the Senior Warden:
Blessings to all Trinity Newsletter Readers!  The Vestry met to discuss a short agenda resulting in lengthy, thoughtful conversations. It was decided that we had received sufficient donations or commitments to proceed with the number one item on the capital improvement list. The repair, re-paving and re-striping of the parking lot will begin in the very near future. In addition, movement will also be seen on items relating to the kitchen in Jane's Hall. Also on the agenda was a discussion as to how we would conduct this years Stewardship program. The vestry was grateful for the positive response to the recent request for funds and as such, believes that members will give prayerful consideration to continuing or enhancing their current pledges for the coming year. This year's stewardship program will be low key and consist of a mailing, several lay witness statements and Rector's comments. Lastly, the vestry will host the congregation at a church picnic on October 18th at Detert Park in Jackson. John Lafferty will cook the hamburgers and hotdogs and condiments will be provided. Church members will provide side dishes and desserts. Pastor Karen has promised an abbreviated service, so don't be late! We'll start at 10:45am. So mark your calendars for the church picnic on October 18th.

Keith Sweet
September Events at Trinity
We are expecting a great September this year!  Invite a friend or acquaintance to our special Back to Church Sunday services on Sunday, September 20!  We're joining thousands of churches nationwide in reaching out to invite family and friends ... and we're going to share a special loving message on that day.  
 
We are also celebrating 20 years of Trinity Episcopal Church in Sutter Creek being located in our present location.  The move made it possible to expand our hospitality and student facilities and we celebrate that important move for our congregation.  We invite others to celebrate with us and appreciate the support!  
 
Most of us have friends and family members who haven't been to church in awhile or maybe they've never come to church.  Invite them to join us for our special Back to Church Sunday event on September 20, to both 8:30 and 10:30 services.  Make sure they know that we will have a special cake after the 8:30 service and a special meal after the 10:30 service to which everyone is invited.  Just ask them! They can say yes, they can say no, but you can invite them and maybe give them a ride or let us know if they need a ride.  Please let them know there will be a nice meal afterwards and make them feel really at home when they are here, as that is the crucial time to open our hearts to new people who are stepping out in a new or different way for them.  That is what we call at Trinity Sutter Creek, "Radical Hospitality!"  And we are very good at it, so let's let our hearts and hospitality shine on that day and beyond! Remember, everyone who enters our doors is special, each in her/his own special way.  Greet them as such! 
Ministries help needed.
Many hands make work light and we have lots of great volunteers who serve the church in many ways.  Unfortunately, kind of like a professional sports team, we have many of our members going out on 'injured reserve" in the next few months.  And, we don't have the luxury of having back up players to put in play.  So, we could really use your help!  We need volunteers for our Host team (these are the folks that greet you at the door on Sunday), our Altar Guild team (these are the folks who prepare the church for the services) and our Chalice Bearer teams (these are the folks that assist with the passing of communion).  If you are interested or would like more information, please give Steph a call 209-304-2868 for the Host and Chalice Bearer teams, and Dorean at 209-223-3739 for the Altar Guild team.  These are jobs that mean a lot to the church and are very rewarding for the team members!  No experience required and training will be provided.  
Amador Council on Aging
-Scam Workshop: Tuesday Oct. 13, 2015 from 2 to 5pm @ Senior Center in Jackson. Speakers from Dept. of Ins., Contractors Licensing Bd., Representative from Sr. Medicare Patrol & speaker on Internet fraud & scams.

-Senior Peer Visitors is recruiting volunteers & will have training in September.

-Amador Rides is looking for volunteers to take seniors to doctor appt's, etc. Medical services ONLY! These might include taking clients to Ione/El Dorado for dialysis, etc. They will pay mileage & insurance for any rides. Contact April @Amador Transit 209-267-9395.

-Common Ground Annual FUNdraising Luau, Oct. 10, 2015 in Mokelumne Hill at Shutter Tree Park 2pm-6pm. $20 for seniors over 60, $25 for general public. Delicious food and live entertainment.

-Check the Health Ministry Counter in Jane's Hall for information on these life-saving opportunities: Vial of Life, sheriff's Hidden Key Program, and visible signs for those living outside the city limits. Also, take a copy of "Guide to Volunteer Opportunities". It might have just the opportunity to keep you busy in a good, healthy way!
Tuna Delight
Star-Kist Tuna has settled a lawsuit, which results in a refund of $25 cash or a $50 certificate for cans of tuna.  Anyone who has purchased any Star-Kist Tuna between February 9, 2009 and Oct 31, 2014 is eligible.  No receipts required.  Just go on line to tunalawsuit.com and complete the information required.  Think how many cans of tuna you could donate to the food bank with either method of refund.  We are known as the tuna church after all!
Food Bank Donations
The Food Bank's cart, in the sanctuary, yielded 106 lbs. of food in August. Total giving in 2015 so far: 1,252 lbs. 

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

 Let's keep up the good work!
Fall Pizza Party
Save the dates!  November 6 and 7 will be our fall pizza party!  (Otherwise known as the church workdays).  We'll need lots of hands to spiff up and have fun so don't forget to mark your calendars.  And, if you want to get a head start, remember, we have the master task list posted in the church office. 
Ultreya Reminder

Any Cursillistas or anyone interested in Cursillo is invited to the monthly meeting of the Sutter Creek Ultreya on Saturday, September 26 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.
September Birthdays
The following members of our church family are celebrating birthdays in September!
     
1st- Colin Kendig
3rd- John Lafferty
4th- Evan Kendig
  10th- Jan Lemos
  18th- Paul Lewis
  20th- Lynne Brumit
  22nd- Mary Krauthamel-Lane
  25th- Carolyn Hennings
  28th- Jennifer Putnam
  29th- Bob Blair
  29th- Bud Busch
 

If you are celebrating a birthday in September, 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.