NEWSLETTER - The Anchor
The People of HOPE Lutheran Church concluded our Annual Meeting after adopting a 2019 Mission Goal supporting budget. I anticipate this year we will begin seeing clear signs of our mission goals taking shape around us.
We made a commitment to becoming a Justice focused congregation. The first item up this year is the Reconciling Works Workshop, Friday & Saturday, Feb. 8-9 at Hope. Your participation is urged and essential. Why?
Most of us grew up in an era when any discussion of human sexuality was avoided. Even though many of us lived through the ‘free love’ movement, we mostly avoided it inside the church. Subsequently, things once unthinkable and unmentionable have become commonplace on TV, songs and movies.
Unfortunately, within the church, we have very little language to discuss relationships, which include physical love, outside of heterosexual marriage. What is LGBTQIA? And how can I talk about it?
We know that many traditional families have had a son or daughter who is gay or lesbian. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, both conservative, have a daughter, who is lesbian and now a US Senator. We can no longer deny these realities exist in public.
Parents are torn between love for their child and the social sentiments that say keep it quiet about it, hide him or her. Gay and lesbian children have struggled often trying to keep their sexual identities hidden to fit in and not cause disruption in their family. All too often some these young people have been unable to hold the difference between what they feel and what is expected, and have escaped the conflict through suicide.
We are born with our ‘sexual identity’ whatever it is. It is innate. All those schemes to change someone’s sexual identity (conversion therapy) do not work and are cruel and are widely discredited.We, People of Hope, are offering the Reconciling Works workshop, to learn to talk about these things, name our fears and grow into a new perspective which upholds truth and social justice, and helps us become an inclusive community.
Once we can talk about these issues respectfully and comfortably, we may come to the point where we as a congregation can adopt and “welcoming statement,” join Reconciling Works and become one more of the handful ELCA congregations in the El Camino Conference who are inclusive.
In our worship, there is a positive response to the Chancel Choir singing, “At the Table of the Lord” alongside the Words of Institution. Watch in February for our worship teaching moments to return.
Enjoy singing and saying “Alleluia!” throughout February. Ash Wednesday is March 6.
Peace & Blessings,
John Sullivan, Pastor
This February, Hope will begin the journey to become a Reconciled in Christ (RIC) church. The first step, in this journey, will our hosting and attending a seminar titled; Building an Inclusive Church, or BIC. This begs the question, at least for me, why BIC/RIC? I mean, how does adopting the acronym, RIC, and hanging a flag with a rainbow on it, suddenly make us more welcoming then before? How can a seminar possibly make us more welcoming? These are all very good questions and can be answered, oddly maybe, by ‘counter questions.’ How will we communicate that we’re welcoming to followers of Christ who are LGBTQA+ given that many, well most, churches are hostile toward them? And if we go ahead and place a welcoming flag in front of our church, how will we know how to welcome them? Welcoming people may be natural, avoid social faux pas, not so much. When I was stationed overseas, we were given classes in local customs so that we would not inadvertently offend someone or worse, treat them with slight regard. This is what is at the core of both BIC and RIC; helping us to be more graceful, and grace-filled, when welcoming our LGBTQA+ followers of Christ. Below I am including a paragraph from the RIC website that gives a bit more information about the BIC/RIC process.“
Since 1974, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation has advocated for the full welcome, inclusion, and equity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church, congregations, and community.
In relationships built through outreach and education, ReconcilingWorks shares Christ's message, the Gospel, which is for everyone equally. We advocate for systemic change in policy and practice in church and society, working to alleviate not only the painful symptoms of oppression but also to eliminate its root causes.
We are Lutherans working with the recognition that racism, sexism, ageism, able-ism, heterosexism, homophobia, and all the other artificial distinctions that seek to raise one group into privilege and preference over another, conspire together to diminish our world and church.
Reconciliation is a fundamental value; it is what the Apostle Paul says we are all called to do. Through our Reconciling in Christ Program, ministries, resources, events and alliances, ReconcilingWorks builds community for worship, education and support; fosters welcome and acceptance in all Lutheran settings; and advocates for the ecclesial changes necessary to ensure full participation in all sacraments, inclusive liturgical resources, and ministries of the Church, inviting all people into Gospel lives of authenticity, integrity, and wholeness.
An independent, Lutheran, membership-supported organization, ReconcilingWorks is committed to strengthen all of God’s beloved for authentic, visible, faithful lives and to work for systemic change within the church and society.We believe reconciling works, for the sake of the world.”I hope to see you 8/9 February at the BIC seminar.
When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and
Jesus cured their sick.. —Matt,14:14
The People of HOPE fight against:
Cancer, Heart Disease and Diabetes
We might not be able to heal the sick exactly as Jesus by his healing touch, yet we can take heart that our Christian tradition helped establish hospitals. St. Basil, or Saint Basil the Great, of Caesarea, b. 330 to d. 379, became a remarkable disciple. After an encounter with fascinating and compelling Christian bishop, Eustathius of Sebaste, Basil had a spiritual awakening and wrote,
“I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labors, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world.”
Outside of Caesarea, Basil built a complex (which became known as the Basiliad), which in year 373, included shelter for the poverty-stricken, a hospital, and a hospice. This facility for healing is credited as the first hospital. (St. Basil helped craft our Nicene Creed.)Similarly, Christians and Lutherans established many hospitals. In fact, Pr. John served as a Chaplain in training at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Minneapolis during his seminary years. In honor of this tradition of healing, our Mission & Ministry Endowment Fund Committee recommended the allocation of $1,500 in matching funds to advance modern-day medical miracles. Hope’s Congregation Council ratified this and established three $500 pots of matching monies for fighting cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. With many Hope members touched with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes our Congregation Council challenges the members or Hope to give generously to fight one, or all, of these diseases. Your donations will be matched dollar for dollar to fight cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. On your offering envelop please use the section marked “OTHER ____________” – fill-in “Cancer’ and/or “Heart Disease” and/or “Diabetes,” then below mark down the size of your gift. You can add this amount to your offering check (i.e. you do not need to write two checks). The totals matched will be reported at worship and in the newsletter. A yellow envelope can also be used.
You can help fight these life-threatening diseases!
The Rebecca Circle will gather on Monday, February 4th, at 10:30 a.m. in the Conference Room. Lunch follows. Bring a sandwich to share.All women are welcome. Join in with this energetic and dedicated group. Their Bible Study is from the “Gather” magazine.
Saturday, February 9th
All men are invited to join in at the Men’s Breakfast on Saturday, February 9th, at 8:00 a.m.
The breakfast is held at Sara’s Kitchen in Santa Clara each month.This event is always well attended.
The food is great and the fellowship can’t be beat!
Our Advent worship services have been joyful with much singing and soon it will be Christmas and a New Year. Progress has been made this year on our Preschool and our Social Justice Ministry.
A Preschool board has been setup and is meeting regularly. They have elected officers and they are Mickey Lazaga as president, Laura Clark-Moore as vice president, Bente Ellis as treasurer and Jim Moore as secretary. Preschool language has been added to our constitution. It is hoped that we will be hiring a Preschool Director sometime next year and maybe, the preschool will be ready to open in the fall of 2019.
Many ideas are being worked on for the Social Justice ministry. We held a Social Justice bible study this year with a lot of regular attenders. Pastor Jim has spearheaded a personal care buffet for the homeless that runs two Sundays a month and Wednesdays at Martha’s Kitchen. A training called Becoming an Inclusive Church will be at Hope in February 2019. This is a training to help all of us become more open and welcoming to those who are different than us.
As we head into 2019, watch for the upcoming events and progress as we work towards our long-term goals.
Keep Mentality Active
Resist the Onset of Dementia
Special: “Synergetic Method”
To improve your memory
and mental agility.
With Professor Vladimir Mordekhay
10:00 - 11:00 am
Free, but donations accepted.
All are welcome!
March 6, 2019
If you are looking for Ash Wednesday on your February calendar, you’ll find that is not until March 6th. Mark this on your March calendar - times tentatively as in the past - 9:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Watch for confirmation of the times.
We will be needing last year’s palm crosses for the ashes for Ash Wednesday.These crosses will be burned at our annual “Shrove” Pancake Breakfast on March 3rd. Bring them to the church office at any time during office hours.
Soup Suppers and Lenten Services will begin on Wednesday, March 13th.
Last month I wrote that when considering things for Pr. Jim’s homeless ministry of hygiene products, to also consider ski caps and gloves. You lose a lot of heat if your head is uncovered and you are out in the cold . Kudos to Katie Scott who read this and ran with it. She knit/crocheted 26 caps and ran out of yarn. She did this for newborn babies one Christmas and they were donated to new moms. So if any of you have yarn which you could donate to her, Katie will keep her hands busy and continue to make more caps.
I read a beautiful article from the newsletter recapping PLTS seminary relations this past year in view of the fires in California and also the move this year down the hill into the city of Berkeley and being incorporated into the Thousand Oaks campus. The big steel cross that stood as its symbol on the top of the hill was taken down. But two parts of the steel were salvaged . Please read on.
"It is now a few months since California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, our "mother ship", experienced the triple devastation of the Borderline tragedy and the Hill and Woolsey fires. Though affected in many ways, the campus is grateful for the resiliency of their community members and the good will that has poured in from many places, including the gift of many handmade quilts, Our Berkeley campus was affected by the dense and toxic smoke from the Camp Fire, which was the most destructive fire in California history in terms of size and loss of life. It’s hard to know how to describe these experiences in their immensity and still hold onto their severe impact on a limited group of people. We all have been affected, but some definitely more so than others.
There are a few important things to say. First, we pray daily for the direct victims and their human circles of love and care. These victims include those who are connected to and are at the Berkeley and Thousand Oaks campus. Second, we give thanks for all of the caregivers and first responders in our communities – firefighters, police, medical personnel and counselors – and for our university’s executive staff who, with dedication, discovered together the right ways to move forward. Third, we pray for those who were traumatized, whose worldviews and states of mind have been greatly altered, and whose sense of security has been compromised. Fourth, we draw on the intellectual, affective and spiritual resources at our disposal and in our hearts that will offer strength for endurance and recovery.
One of those spiritual resources for us as Lutheran Christians is the cross, a symbol of self-giving in its crucifix form (with Jesus on the cross), and, as an empty cross, a sign of resurrection and new life. Some of you have learned that the steel-beam cross which stood behind the Chapel of the Cross on our former hilltop campus, was dismantled a few months ago. That was something we expected, and Zaytuna College, the Muslim school that purchased the land, communicated to us about the event, so that we could hold a final blessing and thanksgiving for it. I imagine that many of you reading these words still mourn for the loss of that campus, for its aesthetic beauty and its buildings, both holy and mundane.
I asked that a few pieces of the cross be saved for purposes to be determined. What emerged was a plan to create a cross from the ½-inch steel. My daughter had the idea for a phoenix to be cut out from within its borders, with a smaller cross inscribed within the heart of the bird. This concept came before the tragedies, but not by much.
Now, as much as ever, we need reminders that, in many natural ways, re-birth follows from death. And even more, this is a doctrine and commitment of our revealed faith, through Jesus’ life and ministry, flowing from God the Creator. We were able to retrieve two pieces of steel, thanks to grounds-person, Mike Maloney. The two pieces of steel will be fashioned into the same phoenix-cross. One will stay on the Berkeley campus and the other will be sent to the Thousand Oaks campus.We are in these tragedies together. Together we heal, with God's grace. And together we share the understanding that Christ can and wants to bring light and truth and healing to our lives. Blessed Epiphany to you all, which is, after all, the season of emerging light,
"Rev. Brian Stein-Webber
Director of Seminary Relations
Since 1971, federal employees and school children have enjoyed a three-day holiday weekend each February. The long weekend is often filled with Presidents’ Day sales—no long weekend for many hardworking retail employees—family time, and relaxing.
Yet despite the holiday often being referred to as “Presidents’ Day” in practice, the official federal holiday continues to be known as “Washington’s Birthday.” When George Washington himself was alive, people honored the occasion with balls and banquets. The celebration continued after his death as a way to remember what America’s first president did for the Nation.
February 22, the date of Washington’s birth in 1732, became a federal holiday in 1879. Today, we celebrate Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday of February each year—the result of the 1968 law mandating that a number of federal holidays occur on Mondays.Incidentally, the third Monday in February can never fall on the 22nd, meaning the federal holiday will never land on Washington’s actual birth date.
Rep. Robert McClory (R-IL), representing “the land of Lincoln,” attempted to change the name of the holiday to “Presidents’ Day” in 1968. But that measure proved to be particularly controversial for legislators from Virginia, Washington’s home state. The provision was soon dropped.
McClory did gain the concession of having the holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February, which falls between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and Washington’s 10 days later. It appeared to many that a federal holiday now existed to celebrate both Washington and Lincoln—as well as America’s other 43 commanders in chief. This interpretation was fueled by the numerous states that adopted “Presidents’ Day” as the holiday’s name, rather than the traditional “Washington’s Birthday.”Past Presidents have often recognized the holiday with visits to Washington’s tomb. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did so on Washington’s 211th birthday in 1943, and Ronald Reagan followed suit on the 250th anniversary in 1982. President George W. Bush visited Mount Vernon in 2007.
By taking the time to remember and celebrate George Washington’s life each February, all Americans have the opportunity to be grateful for the sacred Founding of this country and the values for which it stands.
What does the Bible say about Love?
The most famous verse is from 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4 - 7 and it can be read as poetry. This verse is one that is used at weddings and many people also use it as a Valentine's Day message in their greeting cards.
When you read these verses there are a few things that stand out.
1.Patience - defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. When thinking about those that you love and apply this definition being patient is something we all have to work at.
2. Kindness - the world needs more kindness. With the people in our life kindness should come naturally. If you love someone how can you not be kind?
3.True Love - Not being jealous is at times a difficult thing not to do. But if it is true love then there is never a need to be jealous.
4. Relationship - Compromise is always there for love. Rather than always wanting our own way we are willing to give in and compromise.
5. Hope - Love never gives up. We always have hope. This applies to all aspects of love; we never give up on the ones that we hold dear.
6.Love and Life - It endures - through the challenging and difficult times that life challenges us, you make it through it together.
Endurance of Love
You may have heard about the amount of change that is reflected in our world today. In fact, you may be involved in adapting to change more than you want or think. What is it about change that bothers some people whereas others seem to flow through and beyond without a squiggle or squirm?
For those who resist change, it is more about remaining entrenched in something they have become accustomed to or something where they feel comfortable and secure in. It manifests itself in being stuck, being unchanged from yesterday or what was, or it manifests itself in conflict with what is happening around them despite their best efforts to ignore it.
Love is similar in that love changes as life moves on. It changes not in intensity but in expression. This kind of love keeps moving forward as in a growing partnership set within the boundaries of marriage. It is a love that was once new and bright and full of excitement.
But, life changes; people change; and behaviors change. Not everyone evolves in the same way or at the same time but that is where true love shows itself. It isn't just a love of new beginnings but a love that grows, is flexible, is accepting, is supportive and is expressed within each day. It is not a love confined to what was past but a love that extends beyond.
We grow in love with another by extending our love outwards and not inwards; it is a love that shows compassion or is tough love if need be. It is a love that endures when life throws its curveballs at one or the other person; a love that cannot be stated by one action or behavior or expression. It is a love that always gives; a love that is there every day with all those little actions and behaviors that demonstrates caring, compassion, conciliation, compromise, tenderness, and taking nothing for granted.
As members of the ELCA, our faith in a loving God frees us to be generous and to boldly participate in God’s work in the world. Stewardship is no longer simply about paying the church’s bills. It is about how congregations can together live out God’s call to love our neighbor. We are open to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to participate in and contribute to God’s work in the world using all of the gifts that God has entrusted to our care. Mission Support — the portion of offerings that ELCA congregations share with synods and the churchwide organization — unites us in this vital, life-giving work.
As Lutherans we understand ourselves to have first received from God, and then to respond by giving a portion to God. This faith practice of giving is based on recognizing God’s grace, accepting freely and appreciating gratefully God’s generosity. As a faith practice, giving is lived out in three ways – in proportion to what we have received, in priority from what was received first, in progressive amounts as one has been blessed. These reflect a core practice that is taught, learned and live out through the ministries of this church.Mission Support provides 80 percent of the resources to enable the ELCA to begin new ministries and accompany existing congregations as growing centers for evangelical mission. These funds also provide the staff and resources for the development of new leaders, partnership with churches around the globe, alleviating poverty, working for justice and peace, and so much more.
The ELCA’s evangelical and missional witness invites generous giving. Individuals and congregations are encouraged to increase Mission Support through their decisions and actions. Synods and the churchwide organization share these Mission Support dollars through our work in the expressions of the church. With our hands, we do God’s work of restoring and reconciling communities throughout the world.
As the ELCA enters the second decade of the 21st century, two clear priorities have emerged – building capacity for evangelical witness and alleviating poverty by working for justice and peace. The pursuit of these priorities is directly connected to congregations as growing centers for evangelical mission. As we strengthen our partnership, we do together many things that we could not do alone. One significant way this is made possible is through mission support income from individuals, congregations and synods. This income is the lifeblood of the work God.
A Message from Kathryn Gulbranson, Assistant to the Bishop
Greetings!On Epiphany Sunday, January 6, many of us celebrated the coming of the Magi to pay homage, to worship, Jesus. They left their homes and traveled a great distance, following the light of a star that hovered over the home of Jesus and his family. As I was preparing to preach on Sunday I started thinking about the things that draw me to take one path or another – the stars in my life, as it were.
If I am honest with myself, not infrequently the things that draw me are not the Christ Child, but are other demands on my attention, time, and resources. Sometimes it is the draw of the new and shiny technology or thing that one ‘must have to be happy!’; sometimes it can be anxiety or worry; sometimes it has been grief or anger or fear that has led me to take one path or another.
Some of my sabbatical work was centered on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) (in short, being aware of one’s own emotions, and one’s own ‘hooks and triggers’ to better react and respond to people and situations). As I reflected on the list of the stars that lead me down the paths I listed above, I’m struck that in those moments of following those paths I am not working from my ‘best self’ (as the saying goes – the ‘me’ that is aware of how I am being hooked by my emotions – exactly the response the ad execs are hoping for!
Maybe one way for us to have some awareness is to check the source of that star that we are following. Is it a bright, shiny thing that offers empty promises of happiness and fulfillment? Is it the lure of righteous indignation and being right at any cost? Is it the empty assurance of my own comfort at the expense of others? Perhaps on our various paths, we should take a moment to look at the Star we are following and wonder over what it is hovering. If it does not lead us down a way that leads to the Christ Child – to God incarnate, Emanuel – we can recalibrate and find that star and follow it. Through prayer, community, service and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God promises to show up and to continue to guide and lead us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
May your stars lead to the Child, born of Mary, the Beloved of God, who is the Christ.
Blessings in this Season of Light!
Associate Director, Mt Cross _____________________________________________________________________________Ministri______________________________________________________________________________es