People of HOPE
Sometime in September will mark our collective sixth months of living to avoid the Coronavirus. For many of us, that is six months of a changed lifestyle - staying home, and whenever we leave the safety of our homes, wearing a facemask. You may be following all of the guidelines, though you may have also set up a social bubble of those you live with, and perhaps there are a few others your bubble whom you believe to be safe to share physical space.
In the last six months, you have had a wide range of feelings, starting with the fear of “catching it,” the sadness over the deaths of 183,000 in the USA, and more than 844,000 worldwide. Add to the list of feelings “frustration,” or outright “anger,” of personally not knowing how much longer if it will be -- four more months, seven months, or longer? Anger that older people are at greater risk, outrage that people of color are dying at much higher rates, and rage that we were not better prepared for this, and that our economy is collapsing for low wage workers. For some people staying home has some pleasant aspects of a less rushed life, with more time to garden and smell the flowers, even as a shadow the virus hangs over everything.
Most of us have carved out a smaller world with a routine we think is safe. Willingly or grudgingly, we’ve been going along with all. But then if Coronavirus was not enough, we recently had a heatwave, that brought a freakish lightning storm that sparked massive fire complexes. For weeks we’ve stuck in homes with the smell of smoke and low air quality. But the list goes on - the racial killings by police officers, and the corresponding demonstrations for racial justice - the deep political division in our country and now in full swing ‘an election cycle.’ It might all seem too much. When will we return to normalcy? Is there an end in sight? Let’s face it; it is all mentally and spiritually draining.
Making ‘this is a perfect time’ to realize we depend on God to sustain us, that God alone holds us. We can maintain our homes and live as responsibly as we can, yet God is the one we turn to in our need.
We remember the promise,
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10ff
We do our best to get through each day and each crisis knowing that God watches over us. We trust that God and God’s love is at work watching over the whole creation and each one of us. It helps me to remember the faithful have gone through much more trying times, and God provided a way forward.
Let’s face it; we worry about ourselves, The People of HOPE, and Our Savior’s. We worry about our state, our country, and the world. Yet we dare to entrust ourselves to God’s Grace. We remember we are God’s beloved children. We may stumble and falter, and each time turn to God’s mercy.
Trusting that God will provide a way forward, in September, we will be doing a significant God’s Work, Our Hands project for the residents of Pacific Gardens. See elsewhere in this newsletter how you can contribute items to little care packages to go to each of the residents at Pacific Gardens. Loretta inspired this very thoughtful idea.
Also, in a few weeks, Pastor Jim and I will be taking turns after Sunday worship to host a Zoom breakout room with our youth, where we will tell a different bible story each week.
God’s Blessings to all,
John Sullivan, Pastor
From Our Associate Pastor
He is a young man, very personable and shy; looks like he should still be in high school. He came by the church office looking to throw away some trash. He said he was trying to be respectful of the church property. After a few more minutes of idle conversation, it becomes clear that there is more going on than just a young man being polite to his elders.
He is currently on the street. He’s from Santa Clara and had been thrown out of his house for drinking and taking drugs. He admits he made a mistake and now cannot find a way out. He is 19….just a kid. I suggest some rehab programs, but he politely declines as he is too anxious to go.
Anxiety, it comes up several times in the conversation. As we chat further, it is clear to me that he has deep struggles which he has attempted to address through self-medication. He does have one ask, ‘Do you have a blanket?’ Yes, we say and Dr Dager goes to find him one. I offer toiletries, but he doesn’t need any. I do have some snacks that he readily agrees to take.
He is so young, so seemingly kind and so, for me, tragic. This is not where his parents thought he’d be. This is not where he thought he’d be. He is stuck and terrified to change. He has lost his way. In an ironic twist, being on the street seems more comforting to him then an institution. I wonder why. Does he not have the coping skills? Did his parents not know how to find help when he was young? Did they not have the resources? Or did they not have the time to fight the system? Did they not know, just not know, where to turn and so, did the best they could has he slowly diminished.
Regardless, it was not his dream in high school I imagine, to be on the street talking to an old guy outside of the church, hopeful to get a blanket to ward off the cold of the night. It was not his dream to be sleeping in our doorway, trying to figure out how to find food, avoid being robbed or beat up and wondering where he’ll go to the bathroom. He reminded me of a young women I read about. She was the homecoming queen, head of her class, found dead on a mattress next to a dumpster behind a gas station. I wondered when I read her story, what happened that put her there? How did she go from a bright future to death behind a dumpster?
I don’t have a lot of solutions for this and I also have a few thoughts. Yes, the world is a broken place and people lose their way and also, we are called as disciples to go to those in need, to share the gospel, heal the people and feed them. I believe that we ignore this at our peril. For if we ignore the least of these, does that mean our faith is dead, that we have become social Christians, claiming Christ at the same time that we are not transformed by Christ. How will we make a difference?
From Our Council President
We have been in the pandemic for six months now. How many of you are tired of it? I know I am. Let me share a story with you. I went to the grocery store this past week, and watched as I saw a very angry, terse woman coming out of one of the aisles into the checkout lane. Before she got to the counter she was screaming at and belittling the customer service lady who was deemed essential and only trying to do her job to the best of her ability. Do you think the irate lady was upset with the checker? The checker had done nothing wrong, but give 100% customer service. I would say that this lady was mad before she ever got to the store…from the fires smoke, a bad night, a bad day? Who knows? She was making all the people into the grocery store uptight, tense, and quiet.
As I watched this scene unfold, I couldn’t help but feel sad, but also question this behavior from my upbringing, and my spiritual wisdom. My father was a drug store manager who would have never let this irate lady belittle his employee. My parents taught me when I was very little “IF you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”. I wonder how many in the world today are taught the same thing. As a young adult Christian, I found the book of James in my Bible and wondered why this had never been the topic in any sermons before.
James 1:19-20 says “Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry. Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose”. I wondered as I listened to the words spewing from that lady’s mouth if she even had a Bible or even knew God. I sensed that there were many people who wanted to pay and leave the store just like me. I had read the book of Proverbs many times before. Proverbs 26:17 says “Getting involved in an argument that is none of your business is like going down the street and grabbing a dog by the ears”.
The moral of this story is this: Are we being influenced by all the negative, upsetting things that are happening around us during the pandemic? Are we bringing this attitude to Church meetings? Or, are we carrying the Light of Christ into the community around us? Are we still the hands of Christ doing good in the world? Are we still the feet of Christ walking to find others to help in the world daily? Are we watching the news to find the one good thing done by someone so that we can reflect on something positive? If you haven’t read the Books of James or Proverbs, I suggest that you reflect on these during quiet time.
Blessings and peace,
Thanks to our Volunteers!
Volunteers make for a successful business. Church volunteers make for a successful church. We have been so fortunate in all of our church’s many years to have had and do have dedicated and talented volunteers. They are so appreciated.
Our thanks to all those who have volunteered in our church office: Those who have helped out with filling in during vacation times; giving their efforts in mailing, assembling of newsletters, annual reports and bulletins. Their help has been invaluable.
Thanks to those in our altar guild who not only make sure that our Holy Communion elements are available and in place for use during worship, but stay after worship to wash glasses and take care of putting away utensils, trays, etc. This is “behind the scenes” work that is never seen. We also thank those who bake our communion bread.
We enjoy the wonderful talents of our great choirs. Our Chancel Choir fill our church singing God’s praises. We have always been so proud of our Bells of Hope Choir. It is a legacy left to us by the fantastic talents of Marilyn Perry and it will be forever treasured. Over the years we have enjoyed hearing the voices of our children. Our thanks to those children’s directors past and present. It is a wonderful experience for our children who have and are growing up using their voices singing praises to God.
How we have enjoyed seeing our church decorated for the different holiday seasons of the year These special people who decorate - for Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festival, Advent - give freely of their time in making our church look festive. We thank them for their talents.
Those who serve as Lay Assistants and Lectors are very much appreciated. It is not always easy to stand before a group of people, but their reading of lessons, etc. help us to hear and understand God’s word. We thank our ushers and greeters who welcome people when they walk into our doors. Our church candles are always lit and ready for worship and there are always a supply of prayers candles for members to light. Thanks to Ray for making sure that all candles are there for us.
We thank those who have served as the treasurers of the church, past and present. This important task has been always been handled with responsibility. Also to those who give of their time to collect and count the offerings, not only on Sundays, but at anytime where money and donations are taken. It is sometimes a time-consuming job, but their willingness to be this is commended. Thank you to those who serve on council and church committees.
Our financial secretary, Rosemary, has served for many years in keeping track of offerings and pledges and for supplying information to all for their tax purposes. Thank you, Rosemary.
Our beautiful church grounds are continually being cared for by those who work planting, weeding, and trimming so our church grounds will be a tribute to be God’s house. We thank those who give of their time in providing this care.
To those dedicated people who serve as hosts and workers of our social events, we give a big “job well done” handshake. Whether it be for large events like Oktoberfests, Smorgasbords, Pancake Breakfasts, Church Picnics, Soup Suppers, or for Sunday refreshments, they are there organizing, setting up, serving, decorating, cleaning up, or providing refreshments when no one is signed up, they are in the kitchen at all times. Our thanks also to those help provide refreshments, snacks and hot or cold dishes for these special events. Their participation is always appreciated.
Pr. Jim keeps our Encompass Ministry running smoothly.Thanks to all those who assist him in this important ministry - those who donate the much-needed items and those who help with the sorting, assembling, bagging and distributing.
Thank you, Kathy, for your dedication to bringing the fair trade items to us which helps the small farmers through out the world.
Looking over our list of those who volunteer, it can be said that every member of Hope Lutheran has been a volunteer at one time or another. Hope is so fortunate to have a loving family who volunteer generously and willingly.They will forever be cherished and remembered.
My personal thank you to all. You will forever be in my heart.
The Significance of Pentecost
The Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles on that Pentecost Sunday. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many which had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. The apostle Peter addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.
This is the same Spirit that separated the earth from sky and the sea; the same breath that breathed into Adam now comes to rest on a group of frightened people to establish the church. The Church is now left in the hands of common people, but these people are moved by the Spirit. And the word of God cannot be contained.
The power of the Holy Spirit is the life of all Christians; as a church, we are called to reach beyond our own borders, our own comfort and find our place within the entire body of believers. We, as baptized Christians, filled with the same Holy Spirit that came down on the Apostles on Pentecost, are to offer the witness of the kingdom of God to our family, our society and the global community.
Week Night Bible Studies.
All are invited to zoom join us for two Bible Study groups during the week. Our Savior’s traditionally met each Wednesday for a potluck and Bible Study and they will be continuing to do so by zoom each Wednesday evening at 6:00 PM.
The Hope Bible Study group will zoom meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 PM. They are studying the Book of Acts.
The Bible groups are open to members and friends of both Our Savior’s and Hope. Give one or both a try.
GOD’S WORK OUR HANDS SUNDAY
On Sunday, September 13, congregations of the ELCA will come together for “God’s Work Our Hands” Sunday. Hope Lutheran has participated in this worthwhile ministry for several years. Even during the pandemic, we again will be participating. As we cannot gather together in person, we will be together in spirit.
The Pacific Gardens Assisted Living will be focus for our project. During this time of the pandemic residents of Pacific Gardens have been “sheltered in place” in their rooms with activities curtailed. We hope to help brighten up their days by providing a small gift to each resident - a small token of some kind to let them know that they are being thought about.
We are asking each Hope member or friend - including those from Our Savior’s if they so desire - to put together an item or items to present to the Pacific Gardens residents.
A small decorated bag, box, etc. (even pretty-decorated coffee cups/mugs) containing an item/items such as:
Cheerful cards, artificial flowers, balloons, etc.
Lotions, colognes, decorator soaps, shaving lotion
Inexpensive costume jewelry (bracelets, earnings, jewelry pins/brooches), small knickknacks, small artificial plants
Pretty hankies - white for men, socks, small packs of Kleenex
Pre-packaged cookies, trail mix, crackers (no candy)
Combs, brushes, hair bands, hair bows
Playing cards, crossword puzzles, games
Pencils, pens, note pads
Other personal things that you can think of
There are approximately 50 - 60 residents (70% women) so hopefully if each family participating would put together 2 or 3 gifts (or more if desired), that could cover all. Be sure to put some kind of message in each gift pack - ‘greetings from your friends from Hope Lutheran Church (or Our Savior’s), etc. You can sign your name if you wish. Please mark male or female or either on the package.
We have been in contact with Pacific Gardens and they were delighted that we were thinking of them.
The deadline for getting these gifts to the church is Sunday, September 6th. Items can be brought to the church office during the times that Pr. Jim is there with his Encompass ministry (Tuesdays, 4-6 p.m. & Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Loretta is in the church office usually every Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m. Call the church office to make sure someone is there.
On Sunday, September 13 at our zoom worship, we can report to everyone the results of the project and be sure to wear your yellow God’s Work Our Hands T-shirt!
We urge you to participate!
We also will be collecting personal hygiene supplies for our Encompass Ministry.
Sierra Pacific Synod Fire Update
From Bp. Mark
+ The church buildings of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran in Vacaville, St. Mark’s Lutheran in Fairfield, Napa Valley Lutheran in Napa, Mountain Lutheran in Groveland, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and El Buen Pastor in Salinas, St. Philip Lutheran in Carmel Valley, Advent Lutheran in Morgan Hill, Good Shepherd Lutheran in Gilroy, Our Saviour’s Lutheran in Quincy are all undamaged, though some of these churches are in areas that could be evacuated, especially with the winds and dry lightning that is predicted for tonight. A few of these churches are serving/ready to serve as evacuation shelters for their community. If you know of additional congregations that are being affected by fires, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ There are many members of these congregations who have been evacuated; some for more than a few days. Others are in “Evacuation Watch or Warning” areas, and could be evacuated if conditions change. We don’t yet know if any of the homes of the members of these congregations have been lost, nor do we know how soon evacuations will be lifted. We will provide updates as soon as we have more information.
+ The fire burning near Loyalton on the California-Nevada border is 90% contained and is not currently a threat to any of our congregations, though it is sending a great deal of smoke into the Reno/Tahoe area.
+ Mt. Cross Ministries in Felton has been evacuated and is close to the eastern edge of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. This fire has been difficult to fight because of terrain and smoke issues. Please check the Mt. Cross Ministries Facebook page for updates. We will also provide updates as they are available.
Please hold the pastors, staff and members of these congregations in prayer, as well as the first responders who are fighting these fires in very challenging situations. Members of our synod staff will be meeting with the staff of Lutheran Disaster Response tomorrow morning. We hope to learn about resources that will be available to help in recovery and ways for people to donate to help the many who are and will be in need. May God’s mercy and peace be with all who are living in uncertainty and danger as a result of these fires.
If you wish to donate funds that will be used specifically for congregations and communities in our synod’s territory, then please feel free to donate to our Sierra Pacific Synod. Funds will be received in a “2020 Fires” special fund and will be distributed with the help of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California and Congregational Leaders to people and places most in need. You can donate by a check (please write “2020 Fires”) on the memo line and mail it to: Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA, 9985 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95827.
The Why of Labor Day
To many Americans, Labor Day marks the end of the summer, a day off from work and school, and one last chance to relax. But Labor Day is much more than just a day off. It represents a very important victory for laborers everywhere. The holiday is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers.
A New York City carpenter named Peter McGuire is credited for coming up with the idea for Labor Day. In 1872, after working many long hours under poor conditions, McGuire rallied 100,000 workers to go on strike. The workers marched through the streets of New York City, demanding a better work environment.
McGuire spent a decade fighting for worker's rights. In 1882, he proposed the idea to create a special holiday for workers. On Tuesday, September 5, 1882, more than 10,000 workers hit the streets of New York City for the first ever Labor Day parade. Two years later the celebration was moved to the first Monday in September and in 1894, Congress passed a law making Labor Day a national holiday.
Americans celebrated the first Labor Day holiday with a parade, picnics and fireworks. Today, many people hit the road to enjoy the last of their summer vacation. Others enjoy the long weekend with picnics, backyard barbecues, or just rest and relaxation.
However, you spend Labor Day, remember that the holiday is a time to pay tribute to the workers who have made America what it is today.