Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trinity Tidings - November 2015

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

November 2015

In This Issue
Rector's Report
Did You Know?
All Saints' Day
Message from the Sr. Warden
Amador Council on Aging
Fall Pizza Party
Project Thanks
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 November    

This coming Saturday evening, many of you will celebrate the feast of All Hallow's Eve.  Halloween is the second largest holiday in the United States when it comes to commercial impact.  People spend enormous amounts of money on candy, haunted houses, costumes, and entertainment.  It has become a time when we dress up our little ones in pumpkin outfits and send them out to garner enough candy to spike their blood sugar for weeks!  Not only is Halloween one of our most visible holidays, it is also one with many layers of meaning.  Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, a pagan holiday which marked the end of summer and the day to begin preparations for winter.
Samhain (pronounced sow-hen) was seen as a chaotic night, when the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead was very thin.  The spirits of the departed were thought to roam the earth and would settle their scores on that night if they still held a grudge.  To stave off these powerful forces, the Celts would gather as a community to light bonfires to scare away the forces of evil.  When the early Christians settled Ireland, they renamed this feast of Samhain and called it "All Hallow's Eve."  Hallow is an archaic word for saint. 
Sandwiched between All Hallow's Eve (which is Saturday night), and All Soul's Day or the Day of the Dead (which is Monday), we celebrate All Saint's Day (this coming Sunday, November 1).  All Saints day was originally instituted to remember those many saints who did not have a special day marked on the liturgical calendar: those who served as outstanding examples in our Christian journey.  Today, more and more Christians are rediscovering the ancient connection between Halloween and All Saint's Day: An opportunity to acknowledge that death is a powerful force that scares and intimidates us, but also a time when we can reaffirm the hope of the gospel that death does not have the final word. 
Most Anglicans tend to combine these three holidays (All Hallow's Eve, All Saints, and the Day of the Dead) into one, big, liturgical 'All Saints' celebration when we remember the entire communion of saints: the top notched saints, the generous and heroic people in our lives, parishioners, and those friends and family who have failed along the way but whom we still love and remember.  "The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise." [BCP 862]
On this coming All Saints Day, I am going to especially remember all those loved ones who cared enough to strengthen me in my faith journey over the years.  First there was my mother who made sure I was baptized, confirmed, attended Christian education classes, and went to confession.  She bought me a special bible when I entered seminary but died before I was ordained.  Then there was Brother Isadore, an Ecuadorian missionary who convinced me in the 5th grade that my life belonged to God.  Ward McCabe (a retired priest who was part of my clergy staff) supported and encouraged me as I experienced the changing nature of church in the 21st century. 

The saints in the early Christian communities to whom Paul wrote were not morally perfect.  In fact some of them had serious faults.  Paul called them saints because they had willingly entered into a covenant with God through baptism and were set aside to be and act as God's chosen people.  And so it is with my list of saints whom I have loved and lost. They were not perfect but they were faithful. I hope you will come to church this Sunday to remember the saints in your life whom you have loved and lost. 
So who were the saints that encouraged you in your own faith journey?  Were some of them from Trinity Church?  How can we keep their legacy alive so that Trinity thrives into the future?  One of the ways to remember the saints of ole and honor their spirit among us, is to come together to worship each Sunday, offering prayers and growing in compassion.  Another way to honor their legacy is to offer your time, talent, and treasure to keep the ministries at Trinity alive and well.  In that spirit of continuity, I encourage you to fill out the pledge card that was mailed to your home and generously contribute your time, talent, and treasure to carry out God's mission in this corner of Amador County.  This is one way we can give thanks for all the people who have touched our lives with the love of Christ.
When we give thanks, we notice that more and more blessings continue to flow into our lives.  In summary, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough."  Please send in your pledge card by Sunday, November 8thin gratitude for those who have gone before us and for the continued mission of Trinity Church.
  
Giving thanks,
Pastor Karen Siegfriedt+

Photos of Activities at Trinity in October: 
Driveway/Parking Lot Repair!
Transgender Forum at Trinity
Church Picnic at Detert Park

Did You Know? 
-Oct. 31, 9am-12pm: Pancake Breakfast hosted by local fire departments to support rebuilding Calaveras county after the Butte fire. Held at the Italian Picnic Grounds in Sutter Creek. $5 per person.
-Pastor Karen begins her 6th year @ Trinity on November 1st.
-Nov. 5th at 11:30, Pastor Karen will once again present the End of Life Option Act (AB15) at Thomi's.  Buffet lunch is $15.00.  Contact Sally at Progressive Women's at trestrail@gotsky.com no later than Tuesday, November 3 for reservations...This is an Open Meeting and all those interested are welcome to attend.

All Saints' Day

From the Senior Warden:

October Vestry Briefs From Your Senior Warden:

-Discussed progress on the Repair, Renew, Rejoice Capital Campaign
-Mutual Ministry Review (Check out rector's posting in Jane's Hall)
-Discussed Pledge Drive and the changes happening to churches in the 21st century
Change. That seems to be on my mind a lot these days- the weather, politics, family relationships, friends, aging, faith. The recent vestry meeting focused a lot on change. How our church family is changing in many ways and how we can take advantage of those positive changes and slow or reverse the negative ones. Because of changes in our recent giving, we can see positive change in the church facilities with more changes yet to be made.
Some have contributed in leadership roles for many years and yearn for a less active pace- in other words- they desire a change. Others could make a big change in the life of this church with a commitment of several hours a month lending a helping hand on a committee or a project. We all come to Trinity for many different reasons but one of those has to be to see things change, in our lives, in our community and in our commitment to God.
This is the time of the year when the vestry begins to look at the income and the outgo and reflects on the changes that need to be made financially to get the church family through the next year. Please give prayerful consideration to your giving to Trinity in 2016, not only in a financial way, but also in terms of time and talent. Changing what you do in any one of those ways may make a tremendous difference in your life and in the life of Trinity. God Bless and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Keith Sweet
Senior Warden

Amador Council on Aging

October meeting notes from Joan Von der Heiden:

Supervisor Lynn Morgan, District 3, has a survey she is collecting about people's experience with the Butte Fire. Survey is available on the Health Ministry Shelf. It can with be anonymous or you may add your personal info to get a response.
Sr. Center Auditorium will be closed from Nov. 2nd  thru 20th. Lunch will be served in Rm. #3. Meetings are being rescheduled or moved so please check w/ Eileen @ Sr. Center 223-0452.
"Code Red" ~ Sheriff's Dept. former "reverse 911 calls" is now accepting your Cell Phone Number for registration. Land lines are automatically registered.
Sr. Center Holiday Fundraiser ~ See's Candy sale order forms are available on Health Ministry Shelf, must be turned in by Dec. 2nd.
Common Ground is in need of monetary donations as they are assisting 3 dozen families who lost their homes.

Fall Fun Days
Time for the fall pizza party!  Come on down to the church onNovember 6, from 9 AM until 3 PM, and join in on the pizza party for lunch!  Plus, you can also come on Saturday, November 7, we will have fun from 9 AM till 12 noon.  Donuts, drinks, treats will also be available on both days.  And, all that you need to bring is a set of helping hands so we can spiff up our place and get ready for the Advent/Christmas seasons. Even if you can only come for an hour or two, it really is a big help (and we do have some tasks for those who are less mobile).  We will be there, rain or shine. The process is easy:  sign in at Jane's Hall, pick a task, pick up the necessary tools/supplies, go have fun and return and repeat as you can.  It really is fun!

Project Thanks

We at Trinity participate in Project Thanks, a Food Bank Project, which provides Thanksgiving boxes to needy families in Amador County. Trinity is committed to provide 45 Thanksgiving boxes this year. We collect canned goods, turkeys and money to purchase needed items such as: potatoes, onions, green beans, bread stuffing, and then distribute them on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Collecting items begins on Sunday, October 25th and ends on Sunday, November 15th.  Saturday, November 21st will be a produce packaging day. We will meet at 10:00 am in Jane's Hall and repackage the bulk items in plastic bags. OnSunday, November 22nd, we all bring our turkeys to church and leave them in the parish hall. There will be a group of us handing out lists to help you choose your items.
Come join the fun on November 22nd at 9:30 am and help fill the boxes with canned goods and produce. We invite ALL to help us, the 8:30am and 10:30ammembers.

The magic continues after coffee hour with Thanksgiving boxes being distributed from 1 to 4 p.m. Volunteers are needed in the kitchen to fill orders for milk, butter, eggs and pie. Folks are also needed to help participants pick up their Thanksgiving boxes & put them in their cars.

A sign-up sheet will be available on Sundays. Contact Joan Von der Heiden at  265-6540 or Noreen Lafferty at 274-4000 to volunteer. Thank you for your generosity and support of this project.

Food Bank Donations

The Food Bank's cart, in the sanctuary, yielded 95 lbs. of food in October. Total giving in 2015 so far: 1,442 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, November 28 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.

November Birthdays

The following members of our church family are celebrating birthdays in November!
     
6th- Roberta Ross
14th- Sandi Pietronave
18th- Bob Miller
  24th- Steve Martin
  24th- Jean Suggs
  27th- Meredith Miller


If you are celebrating a birthday in November, 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.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sermon: The Silence of God - Rev. Karen Siegfriedt

The Silence of God      Readings:  Psalm 22; Job 23      Proper 23/B
By the Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA  10/11/15

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me and are so far from my cry and from the words of my distress?  I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; by night as well, but I find no rest.  (Psalm 22)

            This icon (show icon) was given to me by a friend who had purchased it in Greece some 25 years ago.  It is a depiction of Jesus, surrounded by his disciples.  Over Jesus’ head is an image of God the Father (shown as a man with a beard) and God the Holy Spirit who is represented as a dove.  Three persons, one God, the Holy Trinity: a Christian understanding of God who is transcendent, imminent, and within.  And while we believe that there is no place we can escape from the presence of God, (psalm 139) sometimes it seems as if God is absent.  Like the psalmist who cries out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” we too go through times in our lives when God seems hidden, some distant figment of our imaginations. There are times when the Holy One breaks into our lives with power and presence that delights our hearts, making the garden of our faith lush and green.  But then there are other times when our lives collapse, leaving us shattered.  We begin to question our faith, groping through the darkness as if God is hidden behind a dark veil. (hide icon)  What I would like to talk about today is the silence of God and I will use today’s passage from the Book of Job as my text.
            The Book of Job asks the question, Why?  Why do good people suffer?  Why is life unfair?  Why does God seem silent in the midst of my pain?  Why does life have to be this way?  Perhaps you have had similar questions in your life like why your spouse was taken from you when you had such a good marriage.  Or why your child took the wrong turn in life after you provided a good home.  Maybe you are suffering from depression and wonder what you did to deserve this or you are slowly diminishing in vitality, wondering “how long will I live?”  If so, you are like Job, searching for the answers to the dilemma of pain and suffering but never getting a sufficient response.
            The story of Job is an ancient folktale, a poetic book that explores the question: “Why do righteous people suffer?”  The story begins with a wager between God and Satan, testing Job’s faithfulness in the face of suffering.  After losing his wealth, children, and servants, and after being afflicted with boils all over his body, Job begins to wonder what he has done to deserve this pain.  He has been a generous and faithful man all his life and knows he doesn’t deserve this.  Oscillating between despair and dialogue, he demands to know from God why his life is turning out this way. Job looks to the east and to the west but does not find God.  He looks in front of him and behind him, but God is absent.  In today’s passage, Job cries out:  “Today my complaint is bitter; God’s hand is heavy despite my groaning.  Oh that I knew where I might find God that I might come even to his dwelling.”
            I think Christians and Jews have a lot more difficulty facing pain and suffering than do Buddhists.  Buddhism begins with the premise that all life is suffering.  So the spiritual path of Buddhism is to try to overcome suffering by having no desires.  They undertake meditative practices that will allow the follower to detach from all expectations in life.  But not so with Christianity and Judaism.  We begin with the premise that life is good and abundant.  In the first chapter of Genesis we read:  “God saw everything that he had made and indeed, it was very good.”  At the core of our biblical faith is the goodness of God who created a good world.  So we expect life to be good and when it doesn’t turn out that way, we get depressed or angry or puzzled, and like Job ask, WHY?
            Then to make matters worse, we like the Jews embrace the covenant that God made with God’s people as they were crossing into the Promised Land:  ‘If you obey my commandments loving the Lord your God with all your heart…then you will be blessed.   But if you turn away from my commandments and serve other gods…then you will be cursed.’ {Deuteronomy 8 & 11}   Isn’t that what we were all taught growing up?  If you keep your nose clean, work hard, study diligently, and be kind to others, then you will be successful in life.  If you mess up, you will suffer.  I know that is what I learned and believed until I reached my mid-twenties.  I worked hard, studied hard, and sacrificed much to achieve my goals.  But in spite of how hard I worked and how kind I was to others, I didn’t get the better paying jobs because landing a good job was more about “who you knew” not “how much you knew.”   I had a difficult time reconciling the goodness of creation with the unfairness of life.
            As Job continued to struggle, asking God the question, Why Me, his friends joined in on the debate.  Like Job, they believe that God was just and fair and so only good things happened to good people and bad things happened to bad people.  His friends tried to convince Job that he must have done something wrong to deserve his plight in life.  But Job defends himself and wants to bring his case before God to prove his innocence.  Unable to hear his voice, he concluded that God was silent.
            Sometimes, we (like Job) have a limited theology, mistaken notions of God that are not helpful or complete.  Some think of God as a good and jolly Santa Claus, waiting in heaven to hear our requests, granting good things to those who are nice but denying pleasures to those who are naughty. In my experience, this is fantasy. God sends rain on the just and the unjust.  Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.  Life is filled with sorrow and suffering and we do not always understand why.  What are we to do and how do we remain faithful in the midst of pain?  Here are a few insights that I have gained after struggling along with Job in his time of sadness and despair.
1.   Life is good and so is the goodness of God.  But life is also filled with loss and suffering.  So both the Jewish and the Buddhist perspectives have truth within them.  It is not either/or.  Unfortunately in the more liberal Protestant churches, many pastors try to sell a religion that only focuses on the good, blessings, prosperity, immediate answers to prayers, love, peace, joy, and a God who is so intimate with us that all our desires will be granted.  But this is not the biblical God whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not always our ways.  Believing in a prosperity gospel religion will not prepare us for the darker side of life. There is no resurrection without death.
2.   From the beginning, God gave human beings and the rest of creation the freedom to choose between what is good and what is evil.  We have the freedom to share our resources as well the freedom to hoard them thus creating an unjust society from which poverty and violence arises.  Tectonic plates and volcanoes have the freedom to move and erupt, causing earthquakes, fires, and destruction to life and property.  Viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells have the freedom to reproduce, causing sickness and death to all living creatures.  And while creation is good, much of our suffering is caused by the misuse of freedom to serve our own needs rather than the needs of the common good.
3.   Much of the time when we think God is absent or silent, it is because we don’t seem to get an answer to our prayer. We cry out to God but feel forsaken like Jesus on the cross.  Maybe the silence of God is not silence at all but rather the answer, NO!   After all, no can be the answer to our prayer.  “No, you aren’t getting that job.”  “No, this medical treatment is not going to heal your problem.”  “No, your body is too compromised to survive.”  Sometimes no is the best answer.  Think of a parent telling a child:  “No, you can’t stay overnight at your friend’s house when his parents are away.”  At first it seems like an unloving response, but in reality it is a response that protects the well being of the child. Sometimes, the answer to our prayer is not yet.  We are used to immediate gratification and getting what we want. So when our deepest desire is greeted with a not now but later, we often interpret this as an unanswered prayer.  Waiting does not diminish us but builds character and patience, two very important virtues that enlighten the people of God.
4.   Finally, just because we can’t perceive the presence of God doesn’t mean that God is silent or absent.  Let me give you an example.  Living on a hill, I can see Butte Mountain from my porch.  On day 4 of the Butte Fire, I went out to my porch to see what was happening with the fire.  But on that Saturday morning at 10am, the smoke was so thick that I could only see about 20’ in front of me.  My eyesight was not able to penetrate the heavy smoke and so it appeared that there was no Butte Mountain and no fire.  The problem was not with the absence of Butte Mountain but rather with my limited perception.  For thousands of years, people believed that the world was flat because from their point of view, it looked flat.  It took centuries of persuasion and scientific evidence to convince people that the world was a spinning sphere, not a flat surface.  And so it is with our perception of God.  Just because we can’t see, hear, or perceive God, that does not negate the existence or the power of God.  In spite of that smoke-filled day during the Butte Fire, the shining sun was able to make its presence known.  This bright sun was a symbol of hope for me during the fire and reminded me of the good news in the gospel of John:  “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
            In reality, God was not silent or absent or indifferent toward Job although it certainly felt that way to him at the time. And so it often is with us in the midst of our suffering.  When we cry out to God in our anguish and hear only the song of silence, it is helpful to recall those times in the past when God has blessed us and has made his presence known.  Sometimes, we need to rely on the strong faith of others to get us through the dark times or choose to be like Job, arguing with God and demanding answers.  Other times, we need to act “as if,” putting one foot forward in faith even if we don’t believe. 
            I think of Mother Theresa who in the final 30 years of her life did not have a personal experience of the presence of God. I don’t know if she was experiencing the dark night of the soul or whether she was overwhelmed with depression in the face of such grinding poverty.  But from her perspective, God seemed silent!  How did she respond?  Although she did not perceive God’s presence, she acted from a place of faith, continuing to minister to the poorest of the poor and the sickest of the sick. And through these public actions of faith and compassion, God was revealed to the world around her to such an extent that many now consider her a saint.

            The story of Job does not explain the mystery of suffering or justify the ways of God.  But it does show us how to probe the depths of faith in the midst of suffering.  In the end, Job realized that he had a limited knowledge of the ways of God and the world around him.  It seems to me that there are three different responses we can have in response to suffering.  We can accept it at face value.  We can lose our faith.  Or we can be like Job; unwilling to accept the darkness but also refusing to abandon our faith.  May God give us the courage not to lose hope in the face of darkness.  For without hope, the human heart would break. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Service of Healing at Faith Lutheran Church - Sun Oct 11


Sermon - Sacred Unions: A Reflection on Marriage and Divorce - Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt

Sacred Unions: A Reflection on Marriage and Divorce   Readings: Mark 10:2-16   Proper 22/B
By The Rev. Karen Faye Siegfriedt; Trinity Episcopal Church, Sutter Creek, CA   10/4/15

            Jesus said:  “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”  {Mark 10}
            What do you hold as being sacred in your life?  What are those people, places, and things that engender a response of holy awe from you?  Perhaps it was the moment when you first held your newborn child in your arms, amazed at the wonder and gift of new life.  Or maybe it was an experience of the great outdoors like Bridal Falls in Yosemite or the centuries-old Sequoias of California, massive in size and stately in beauty.  Perhaps you treasure a sacred family heirloom that reminds you of beloved relatives and connects you with generations that came before.  What often elicits a sense of the sacred in our lives are those thin places, where the separation between God and us, between heaven and earth, somehow feels thinner.  The sacredness I would like to talk about today is the sacredness of marriage.  And I will use today’s gospel story as my text.
            Because God is the creator of all, a certain stamp of God’s divine image can be found throughout creation, which is why we often experience the presence of God in nature.  However, in our limited vision and because of our wounded egos, we cannot always see God’s imprint in the world around us.  So we have divided the universe into the sacred and the secular, the holy and the ordinary, causing us to overlook the sacred in our daily lives.  One of the treasures of Franciscan Spirituality is its emphasis on the goodness of all creation.  It does not divide the world into good and bad. Rather Franciscans see the world as being holy, with God as the source of each and every thing.  This perspective elicits a profound reverence for the human person, made in the image and likeness of God.  And so it follows that when two sacred persons are joined together in Holy Matrimony, that relationship also becomes sacred.  And like any other sacred entity entrusted to our care, we are to honor, nurture, protect, and cherish our marriage.  It is this concept of a sacred marriage that Jesus wants to guard against injury or divorce.  Let’s take a closer look at the gospel reading.
            In today’s passage, Jesus is leaving Capernaum in Galilee to go to Jerusalem.  He continues to instruct the crowds who are following him.  This includes the Pharisees who are the traditional teachers of the Mosaic Law.  They are quite upset with Jesus, as he seems to be challenging the Law and advocating a different path.  So they test him, trying to trick him into answering questions that will put him at risk. In today’s story they ask him if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife.  Jesus tells them yes, it is lawful to divorce one’s spouse, but it is not what God intends for families. 
            In 1st century Palestine, it was legal for a man to divorce his wife.  According to the Mosaic Law, a man who became displeased with his wife could simply write her a certificate of divorce and send her from his house.  When this happened, the woman lost most of her rights.  If she had no family to return to, she could easily find herself begging for food on the street or prostituting herself for income.  Jesus found this kind of treatment of a spouse hard-hearted. While he admits such a divorce is legal, he says that this kind of treatment is dishonoring the sacred bond of marriage. 
            In biblical times, marriages were arranged between a woman’s father and the father of the groom. It was a business arrangement that was for the benefit of the family and clan.  This arrangement was hoped to increase the family’s status, wealth, and connection.  Marriage was an avenue to ensure legitimate heirs and economic survival.  The husband’s and wife’s psychological needs were rarely considered.  It was only hoped that love would follow.  So marriage was like a property exchange that could be terminated by the husband in the future. 
            Jesus was appalled at this utilitarian approach to marriage that could be brokered and broken. He believed that marriage was a sacrament, an outward sign of an inward grace and ought to be treated as such. “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Jesus was declaring the beginning of a new era in which marriages would be regarded as sacred and permanent, a holy union for the well being of the couple, the family, and the society in which they found themselves. While today’s gospel imperative against divorce might sound harsh to our ears in the 21st century, it takes on a different tone when we remember that Jesus’ intent is the protection of two sacred persons joined in holy matrimony, rather than chattel to be used and discarded on a selfish whim. 
            Given his focus on the sacredness of the marriage bond, it is hard to imagine that Jesus would have insisted on maintaining a marriage where one or both members were abusive or subject to abuse; for that would be no marriage at all.  After all, there is no place for abuse in the Kingdom of God.  Unfortunately, since the 1960’s, many marriages have ended in divorce not because of abuse but mostly because of unhappiness. The divorce rate in the United States is over 40% with many couples choosing to cohabitate rather than marry.  Sometimes, people fail to approach marriage as a sacred union, giving preference to personal satisfaction over uniting their wills with God’s will. Today, people have greater expectations of marriage than ever.  They marry for love, for mutual joy, to have children, and to further their own psychological and emotional growth.  But because their expectations are much greater than in earlier times, so are their disappointments. 
            For instance, many spouses expect that their partner will satisfy all of their unmet childhood needs, complement them where they are lacking, nurture them in a consistent and loving way, and be eternally available to them.  Women expect their husbands will change once married while husbands believe that their wives will never change.  Both are sorely misguided.  Once the initial glow of marriage wears off, many husbands and wives take a step back from each other and wait for the dividends of togetherness to roll in.  And when the dividends of togetherness don’t roll in as expected, some end the relationship.  What are we to do?
            I recently spoke with several folks at Trinity who were married at a young age and who have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  These older folks have kept their commitments to have and to hold for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until parted by death in spite of the many trials and tribulations they faced over the years.  What wisdom do they offer us for a life-long marriage?  Good communication was key, including open conversations when problems arise, as well as not making major decisions without consulting the other.  There was a sense of mutuality rather than control.  This included sharing responsibilities, respect for one another, and a give and take, knowing that at times, one partner will require more attention and resources than the other.  Other things mentioned were forgiveness, letting go of the negative, dwelling on the positive, and having gratitude for the relationship rather than being disappointed because of its limitations.  These folks made a commitment for a lifetime and knowing that divorce would ultimately hurt the family, they weathered the times of trial, knowing it would eventually pass.  In the interim, they waited patiently for the sun to rise again, remembering the love they had from the beginning.      
            There is a lot about marriage in the news these days since the Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality.  On the opposing side are those who believe that gay marriage endangers heterosexual marriage and that the bible forbids marriage equality.  But as Jesus said in today’s gospel, it is usually hardness of heart that creates a break in a marriage and it is this hardness of heart that we need to guard against if our marriages are to last. 
            As you know, the Episcopal Church allows divorce and remarriage, not because it is permitted in the Bible, but because it is a pastoral church that knows we all fall short of the glory of God.  And while it blesses the marriage of gay couples, it does lay out expectations for all couples seeking the Church’s blessing.  It expects life long relationships to be characterized by “fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.”  When we approach our relationships with this sacred posture in mind, our holy unions have a better chance of surviving the trials, tribulations, the disappointments, and unexpected turns in our lives.
            So what do you hold as being sacred in your own life?  What are those people, places, and things that engender a response of holy awe and appreciation from you?  The Church views all of creation as containing the stamp of the divine image.  But in particular, it has declared certain rites like baptism and Holy Communion as sacraments, outward signs of an inward grace. (Give example)  Holy Matrimony is one of those sacraments, in which two people “enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.”  {BCP 861}

            And so we embrace Jesus’ view of marriage by asking God’s grace to be upon those who are seeking a life long union:  “Eternal God, look upon this couple whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony.  Grant them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other, a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.  Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love with you and one another all the days of their life.”  {Prayer said during Marriage Ceremony-BCP 429}

Sophia's Well of Wisdom - Sept-Oct 2015


SOPHIA'S 
Well of Wisdom 
September - October 2015 Newsletter
Dear Loraine,
The local fires have been a spiritual experience in more than one way. First of all it has brought out so much generosity from the community of individuals, businesses, and religious and service organizations. People have prayed for themselves and others and felt compassion for those who suffered disruption in their lives and deep sorrow for those who suffered loss of property and life. Many have lent a helping hand in whatever ways they could. 
Let our prayer be 
THANK YOU!
An appreciation for the services provided by the Fire Fighters has come to the attention of us all. Do you see the signs of appreciation all over the county?  
Does it make you think more about what could you do to help someone who is suffering? Most of us have not been trained to fight external fires, but we can learn to manage raging internal fires. 

First of all we learn to manage the out of control fires of emotion when they flame up. If we are honest, we felt that chaotic, frantic energy in and around us when we were caught in the anxiety and concerns of the entire community. Then we lend a helping hand or heart to someone else who is caught in the struggle. We can defuse the fire within us rather than add it to the raging collective. Thus, to those who channeled their fires of confusion and uncertainty into action to help others, we say THANK YOU. 

This Sunday at SOPHIA'S we are going to celebrate the Fall Equinox as many others all over the world will do.  However, we want to emphasize the needs of others who lost so much in the fire by taking a special collection. Please pray and give generously from your heart. 

This newsletter combines September and October news. So take the time to read it over, see what's new and what's the same. Share it with others who may be interested in our programs and services. 

Rev. Tracy Johnson
Rev. Tracy Johnson, Celebrant
FALL EQUINOX CELEBRATION
Sunday 
September 20 
10am - 12pm
Tracy Johnson, Rituals Minister, and Shari Anderson, Music Director, are preparing a vibrant and creative Autumn Equinox celebration at SOPHIA'S. Participants will have an opportunity to experience the deep Sacred in meditation, inspiration, music and so much more. The turning of the seasons toward harvesting, thanksgiving, and celebrations with family and friends make this time of the year a favorite of many.  With autumn-foliage-road.jpgthe shorter days and longer nights, there is more time for reflection of days gone by and time to prepare for the future. 

As part of our monthly Wisdom Circle theme, Tracy will share the importance of ritual and celebration in the Wisdom of Esoteric Development. These celebrations give us another opportunity to turn inward. Our lives are mostly conditioned for outer (exoteric) life whether we like it or not. We must make real effort and dedicated purpose to develop the inner (esoteric) life to create balance and harmony in our world. We love to welcome guests and returning friends. You are always welcome at the Well!
Rev. Patsy Walker Fine,
Spiritual Director


SPIRITUAL SATURATION

At SOPHIA'S we have been deeply engaged in a study of the Ageless Wisdom or Esoteric Philosophy in this years Wisdom Circle. An online course I am currently taking is on The Esoteric Philosophy on Health and Illness. Yesterday I viewed a seminar on the problem of Spiritual Saturation. This is a very timely subject, so I thought I'd share a bit of this with you, just incase you are feeling the symptoms of this malady. 

The following text is taken from Chapter 33 in Challenge for Discipleship by Torkum Saraydarian (shown in italics). 

Those who try to advance on the spiritual path and in the meantime live a normal life often confront a situation which is called "spiritual saturation." Saturation is an interesting phenomenon. When a sponge can no longer hold any more water, we say it is saturated. A similar thing happens to the human mind or the human soul: At a certain point, it can no longer absorb knowledge, wisdom, or energy.

TS describes nine signs or clues that one may be experiencing "spiritual saturation." The person may experience a:
  • Crystallization of reasoning, to dogmas and doctrines, and finally to fanaticism.
  • Loss of interest in further self-development.
  • Gradually falling into his/her former habits, vices, and shallow pleasures.
  • Loss of interest in meditation, study, and learning.
  • Turning away from his/her creative labor.
  • Loss of joy of life. 
  • Withdrawal into the cave of self-interest. 
  • Growing indifference to spiritual values.
  • Confusion, inertia, apathy, and heavy depression. 
What are the causes of saturation? 
TS indicates several causes for this dilemma. Here are a few of them:

1. The first cause is a harmful life. (Do we still harbor harmfulness in thought, word or deed?)

2. The second cause is lack or failure of actualization. (Are we applying what we learn or just keep it on the superficial level?)

3. Saturation begins when one does not engage in a creative labor which gives expression to the Teaching. (Are we finding ways of creatively expressing our wisdom?)

4. Another cause is a lack of service. (Are we getting the picture? The automatic result of spiritual progress is the desire to serve others. If we are not expanding our service commensurate with out growth in consciousness, we are creating a bottleneck for the increase in energy.)

5. The next cause of saturation is greed. (If we are still harboring greed then we will find no or too little time in our life for spiritual labor because we are too busy accumulating things.)

6. Another cause of saturation is mental confusion. 
(When the mind gets too full of thought-stuff without transforming it into action, the result is confusion - unfocused excessive energy.)

7. If there is impurity in the heart, it repels the Teaching. (If we haven't done the work of emotional purification, we can't digest the incoming energies because of the drain of destructive emotions.)

There are several more causes that TS lists, but the one the spiritual pilgrim may not realize as a problem is described as follows: 

Too much study and too much meditation cause saturation if one does not apply the ideas and visions that he/she contacts. One must know his/her own limit of absorption and gradually expand his/her container, his/her consciousness. Too much meditation (or too much study) brings in too much energy, and if one is not ready to handle it, he/she uses that energy for building obstacles on his/her path, or gets flooded. . . . Overeating, over drinking, over playing, and over running -- all "overs" will eventually hurt you. Equilibrium is a great law, and you must learn this law in detail in order to know how to build a foundation. 

I appreciate Torkum' s teachings because he always presents positive solutions to the problems. Here ares some wonderful ways to overcome and enjoy yourself at the same time - a true Win/Win.

How to overcome spiritual saturation?
1. Try to eat good, healthy, natural food as much as possible. Drink pure water and sleep well. Go to sleep early and awaken early.
2. Once a week give your body and mind a total rest in Nature. 
3. Think often about a victorious, beautiful future for yourself in coming lives. 
4. Study the science of cause and effect in your daily life, in national and international life. 
5. Saturation can also be overcome by regular, daily running, swimming, and sports, especially hiking in the mountains. 
6. Reticence and solitude can give your nature a chance to regenerate itself. 
7. Daily visualize whom you can serve and help, and then try to do it as much as possible. Daily do a short meditation on beauty, goodness, justice, joy, and freedom and think how you can express them in your life. 
8. Visit art galleries, attend great musical or dance performances, listen to inspiring lectures. 
9. Do daily deep breathing while you walk, and choose simple songs and sing them when you are alone. 
10. Engage yourself in some creative work. Have a plan and work for it. 
11. Develop gratitude to people and to the Creative Forces in Nature. Increase the expression of your gratitude. 
12. The most effective means to overcome spiritual saturation or to prevent it forever is to make real efforts to raise the quality of your daily life, to raise the quality of your life as a whole by raising the quality of your every action, word, labor, and thought. 

I hope this lesson gives us some real clues on the obstacles we face as we endeavor to deepen our inner spiritual life. The twelve solutions are simple and profound mountain-side.jpgways to ensure our spiritual inner work is healthy, productive, and balanced with a quality outer life. 

I will conclude this months theme of the Esoteric Life by hosting the Wisdom Circle on 9/27 discussing the Modern Day Mystic as one who balances and integrates the energies of the heart and the mind, a true Esotericist. I hope you will join me in this time of learning and sharing our wisdom path. 

If you would like to discuss this problem or any other obstacles you are experiencing on your spiritual path, call me for an appointment for a private consultation.
Reiki
COMING EVENTS AT SOPHIA'S

Besides the wonderful Equinox Celebration describe earlier, the follow events are on the calendar for SEPTEMBER:
  • Reiki Healing Circleon Saturday 9/26 from 10am - 12 pm. Come experience and practice the amazing power of healing and relaxation. 
  • Full Moon of Libra Mediation on Sunday, 9/27 followed by Wisdom Circle: The Modern Day Mystic - 10am - 12pm.
  • Monthly Wisdom Lecture with Rev. Patsy on Esoteric Development. Wednesday 6-8pm. Patsy will share how the Initiations, Energies, Rays, Chakras, and Spiritual Lessons work together for our inner development and integration. 

Events in OCTOBER:

The Wisdom Circle theme for October is The Wisdom of Discipleship. On 10/4 Patsy will present the introduction on What is Discipleship? Yes, I know its an old word, but it refers to the Path of Soul and that means Group Life and Service. How does the individual personality give way to the life of Soul? And what does that mean in real action? Lets see how it is addressed in the Esoteric Philosophy of the Ageless Wisdom teachings and talk about it. 

The remaining Sundays will be devoted to the Wisdom Attributes of the Disciple. What does that actually look like? Lynnea Honn will lead the discussion on several attributes on 10/11 followed by Shari Anderson hosting on 10/18, and Marilyn Nutter on 10/25. Obviously there are many attributes we will discuss with the aim to inspire our resolve to continue on the path and overcome the challenges we all face as we strive for greater wholeness and health of body and soul. 

The Wisdom Circle always begins at 10am with Morning Meditation. Shari Anderson presents invocational music and Rev. Tracy Johnson leads a time for communion. The sharing around our learning theme begins around 11am and concludes at 12pm


SPECIAL EVENT: OCTOBER 23-25
WISDOM RETREAT

The retreat will focus on the Wisdom of Meditation as the cornerstone of the spiritual life. Rev. Patsy will introduce the retreat on Friday evening from 6-8:30 pm with a Silent Meditation. She will present a modern look at the inaugural text on meditation, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and close with a deeply restful meditation led by one of SOPHIA'S meditation teachers.  

Saturday will focus on the Science of Meditation in the morning and feature training in Seed-thought Meditation in the afternoon. The day will begin at9:30am and close around 4:30pm. A light vegetarian lunch will be provided along with water and tea. 

Sunday begins with a Full Moon of Scorpio meditation at 10am followed by a Wisdom Circle sharing on the attributes of the disciple that foster a contemplative life hosted by Marilyn Nutter at 11am. The Wisdom Retreat will officially close at 12pm

Participants are strongly encouraged to enter a retreat mode by lodging across the street at the Days Inn or a nearby B & B.  When you call to register, lodging information will be provided upon request. Sutter Creek is a tourist destination so make your reservations now. 

The retreat is by donation. A recommended average donation amount for the three-day retreat is $95. However, each person may give according to their own means and conscience. 

If you are interested in the retreat contact Rev. Patsy Fine for further information and instructions for registration at 209-418-9003 or email me at sophiaswell @volcano.net. The deadline for registration is October 18.

A SPECIAL NOTICE:
Beginning in October, 
SOPHIA'S will offer an evening Wisdom Circle on Sundays from 
5-6:30pm

This does not replace the 10am Wisdom Circle, but will provide a time for others who cannot make the morning session to participate in the Wisdom Circle learning and sharing. If there is a positive response to the evening session, it will become a regular part of our sacred education program. 

The evening session will include a 20-minute meditation followed immediately by the Wisdom Circle. Although the Wisdom Circle theme will be the same as the morning, there are no plans for a break, communion, or music as there is in the morning Wisdom Circle.  

If you've been wanting to come to the Wisdom Circle but can't due to other Sunday morning obligations, join us on Sunday October 4 at 5pm. 
Finally, a reminder that we have several other regular programs including Women Writers at the Well on Mondays at 6pmA Course in Miracles study group on Tuesdays at 7pm; and Sacred Dance on Wednesdays at 12pmMeditation Classes form as enough participants register to hold a class. Call Lynnea Honn at 304-6174 to register for the next 5-week class. Singers at the Well will meet for practice with Shari Anderson on September 27,October 11, and October 25th at 12:15pm

Besides our community education services, we offer spiritual and holistic care services.  I offer spiritual direction and mentoring services, pastoral care, and holistic healing work by appointment. Information is available at www.swow.massagetherapy.com.

Autumn Blessings, child-playing-leaves.jpg
Rev. Patsy Walker Fine, D.Min.
Spiritual Director
SOPHIA'S Well of Wisdom
270A Hanford Street
Sutter Creek, CA 95685