Reflections on eye mission to Honduras

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Ministry of the week.

By Penny Campo-Pierce, Dr. Bob Foote, & Sandy Foote

Eye exam

Eye exam

This year’s clinic saw 880 patients served by 23 volunteers, including ten doctors. In five clinic days, we made medical referrals for 125 people, sent one man to the hospital for immediate surgery on a torn retina, and arranged for a ten-year-old girl to have cataract surgery so her eyes and brain could begin to communicate, before it was too late for coordination of that process. Our team worked together in a fluid dance to do what needed to be done for each patient, seen in a timely and professional way.

The final stage of the patient’s visit takes place in the dispensing room. Chaotic doesn’t begin to describe it. In one corner, Sandy Foote is talking with a translator and a patient to refer the patient to a general or specialist doctor or an Ophthalmologist, depending on their medical issue. In another corner, Bill Pierce is fitting a patient with frames so new glasses can be made right there in the room or he’s fitting newly made glasses on a different patient. On a wall inside the door, our computer guru Kevin is searching the database for glasses with the right prescription for the next patient in line. Along another wall is the line of patients waiting with their exam card from the doctor. Many of them have a mother, father, sibling(s), or grandma along with them; sometimes combinations of all those possibilities! We have team members and student translators helping find prescription glasses, giving sunglasses to each person, and explaining the importance of wearing the sunglasses every time they go outside. The elevation in La Esperanza is 5500 feet; the UVA rays from the sun cause early cataracts. Sunglasses also offer protection against the dust in the air that may cause another condition, Pterygium.

Every year we have a story, or two or three, about the most wonderful patient encounter. This year our favorite is about the three-year-old boy who came with one eye turned in fully toward his nose; the other eye was not tracking on anything in his environment. He was a great little trooper during the eye exam and the fitting for new glasses. When he came back for his glasses, he was not engaged with what was going on around him at all. As soon as we put on the glasses, his eyes were tracking together and he couldn’t soak everything in fast enough. Now comes the best part: he looked at his mother and asked “Can I take them home?” No dry eyes on any team members with that one!  Praise God for His help in all things. It would not be possible to do this work with any joy or equanimity without God being in each and every detail.

 

Engaging the Word: 5/21/17 (The Sixth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

By Barbara Klugh

Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:7-18; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. In this week’s readings, Paul’s preaching in Athens sparks curiosity, ridicule, and belief, Peter tells Jesus’ disciples not to be intimidated for doing good in the world, even if it results in suffering, and Jesus promises his disciples that he will send an Advocate to be with them forever.

St. Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael, 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael, 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 17:22-31: Our reading this week takes place during Paul’s second missionary journey (50-52 AD). Paul arrives in Athens, a center for philosophy and the exchange of ideas, and a city with many gods. Paul was distressed about all the idols and proclaimed the Christian message in the synagogue and in the marketplace. Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him, and wanted to know more about the “foreign divinities” Paul was proclaiming, so they brought him to the Aeropagus (Mars Hill), the site of the advisory council and a meeting place for philosophical discussions.

Paul begins with a compliment, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, `To an unknown god.’” Paul then tells them that the unknown god is God, the creator and Lord of heaven and earth, the source of all that is.

Paul tailors his message to his Greek audience. He quotes from Greek philosophers, such as Epimenides, who wrote about the one god, “In him we live and move and have our being,” and Aratus, who wrote, “We are his offspring.” Paul tells his audience that the one true God has been patient with human ignorance for a time, but all should repent because God “will have the world judged in righteousness by a man [Jesus] whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The lectionary ends here, but in the next couple of verses we learn, “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed, but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ At that point Paul left them. But some of them joined him and became believers.” Their reaction is just as true today—when people hear about Jesus and the Christian way of life, some scoff, and others become believers.

Psalm 66:7-18: The psalmist calls on all the earth to bless and praise God. God has protected his people through tests of hardship and defeat and brought them to freedom. The psalmist promises to make offerings and invites people to hear what God has done for him—God responded to his repentant heart. “Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, not withheld his love from me.”

St. Peter by P.E. Besenzi, 17th cent. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Peter by P.E. Besenzi, 17th cent. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 3:13-22: In this week’s reading, Peter continues to encourage Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith. Peter is not calling on Christians to seek out suffering, but tells us that it’s a blessing to suffer for doing what is right: “Do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.” Always be ready to witness for Christ. Keep in good conduct; it will honor Christ and shame your abusers. Peter says, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.”

It may be theologically incorrect, but, personally, I think suffering is never God’s will, but that God suffers along with us when we are enduring hard times. In the Prayers and Thanksgivings section of the Prayer Book, Prayer 55, p. 831, “For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement”: The prayer begins, “O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.…”

We are called to follow the example of Christ, who suffered and died once and for all to bring us to God. Peter tells us, “he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison (meaning he ‘descended to the dead’ as we say in the Apostles’ Creed)” who were disobedient in the days of Noah so that they might hear the message of salvation. Peter says the eight persons on the ark were saved through water, prefiguring baptism. And now, baptism saves us, “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.”

Detail of statue at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Orford. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Detail of statue at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Orford. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 14:15-21: In this week’s reading, Jesus continues his farewell discourse, his final instructions to his disciples.

Jesus tells the disciples to keep his commandments. You probably recall Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, which we read on Maundy Thursday: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Although he won’t be physically present, the Father will give them another Advocate to be with them forever. The Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The Spirit is not available to unbelievers, but they (and we) know him because he will dwell within.

Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” The resurrection of Jesus will reveal his living presence to the disciples through the Holy Spirit. No longer confined by time or space, Jesus will continue to be with his disciples always, because the Holy Spirit abides in everyone who loves Jesus and keeps his commandments. This is very Good News indeed!

Grace Hikers 2017 schedule

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

Schedule for Summer and Fall 2017

Hikers will meet at church parking lot at 9:00 am

Lunch will follow hiking

Will carpool from church to hiking and back to church

Total time is usually 4 or 5 hours depending on location of trails

 

 

MAY 13                                      AUGUST 5

Pete’s Woods                                                       Seven Bridges

GT Regional Conservancy                                 GT Regional Conservancy

Arcadia Dunes, Arcadia MI                               Rapid City, MI

Lunch Location:                                             Lunch Location:                    

M22 in Onecka                                                     To be determined

 

JUNE 3                                      AUGUST 26

Houdek Dunes                                                       Alligator Hill

Leelanau Conservancy                                          Sleeping Bear Dunes

Leland, MI                                                               Leelanau, MI

Lunch Location:                                                Lunch Location:

To be determined                                                   To be determined

 

 

JUNE 24                                    SEPTEMBER 16

Legacy Art Trail                                                    Light House West Nat. Area

Crystal Mountain                                                  Leelanau Conservancy

Thompsonville, MI                                               Northport, MI

Lunch Location:                                            Lunch Location:

To be determined                                               To be determined

 

JULY 15                                     OCTOBER 7

Mud Lake                                                              Hartwick Pines

Leelanau State Park                                             State Park

Northport, MI                                                       Grayling, MI

Lunch Location:                                               Lunch Location:           

To be determined                                                 To be determined                                                                     

If inclement weather hiking will be cancelled.  For information contact Glenda Andrews gkandrews@earthlink.net or 231-275-0036 or church office

Immigration crackdown: Exchange student denied entry into U.S.

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Youth group.

By Cyriaque Gilbert, as told to Donna Olendorf

French exchange student Cyriaque Gilbert with host family member Kate Blondia

French exchange student Cyriaque Gilbert with host family member Kate Blondia.

I am a 14-year-old exchange student, visiting the Blondia family from France. There are six children in my family, and it has become a tradition for us to come to Traverse City as teenagers. Two of my brothers have already been here, one in 2012 and one in 2013.

Both my brothers got into the United States without a problem, so there was no reason for me to worry that I would be turned away. But that is exactly what happened. Between their visits and mine, a new president had been elected and he had signed an executive order tightening immigration policies and border control.

When I arrived in Detroit after an eight-hour flight from Paris, I got in line with my father and mother to go through Customs. The agents asked to see my documents, and my parents showed them my paperwork, explaining that I was an exchange student who would be studying in the United States for a few months.

The agent looked at my passport and then he looked at me. At first I wasn’t worried, but when he asked for documents that I did not have, I started to feel nervous. He wanted to see my ESTA form, which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and he asked for my SEVIS ID number, which the government uses to maintain information on non-immigrant students and exchange visitors. I didn’t’ have either of those things. I was documented for a vacation.

After three hours of questioning, the outcome was firm: I could not enter the country. I would be an illegal alien. And so, my parents and I were ushered back onto the same plane we had gotten off of for eight-hour return flight back to Paris.  If I wanted to come to the United States, I would have to correct my paperwork and buy a new round-trip ticket.

Back home in France, my parents and I visited the US Embassy and they helped us fill out the right paperwork. But the problems didn’t end there. I was supposed to attend Glen Lake School, but that district did not have a SEVIS number allowing them to access the internet database that transmits data to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Luckily, the Leelanau School, where my host parents both work, participates in that government program and they assigned me a number and agreed to sponsor me.

The process took two weeks and delayed my arrival by almost a month, from the end of March to the end of April, but I am here now.  This time, we flew to Chicago where, a family friend had assured us, the customs agents are more lenient. My mother stayed home, but my father was with me and we cleared Customs without incident. Then we rented a car and drove to Traverse City.

I will be here until June 25 and I’m looking forward to becoming fluent in English and experiencing American culture, including the Youth Group trip to Chicago later this month.  I never dreamed that I would be impacted by a crackdown in immigration laws, but now I know that a presidential ban can apply even to a student like me!

Engaging the Word: 5/14/17 (The Fifth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. In this week’s readings, Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr, Peter offers encouragement to the new Christian community, and Jesus promises that his eternal presence will be with his disciples.

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Pietro da Cortona, c.1660. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Pietro da Cortona, c.1660. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 7:55-60: This week we learn about Stephen, our first Christian martyr, and about how God can use terrible events to advance the kingdom.

Earlier, Stephen was one of seven men who were appointed to distribute food to the widows. He did great wonders and signs among the people. A group from the synagogue debated Stephen and falsely accused him of blasphemy. They seized Stephen and brought him before the council.

As his defense, Stephen gave a thrilling history of the Jews from Abraham to Jesus (a great read—7:1-53). He concluded by equating the religious authorities with their ancestors who rebelled against God, failed to keep God’s law, and opposed the Holy Spirit. Stephen blamed the Jewish leaders for murdering the Messiah. The authorities became enraged. Now we come to this week’s reading.

When Stephen tells the leaders of his vision of “Jesus standing at the right hand of God” in heaven—their rage boils over. They drag him out of the city and they began to stone him to death. Saul, who later became Paul, was a witness. As Stephen nears death, “he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.” Stephen’s prayer echoes the words of Jesus as he was dying on the cross—he commended his spirit to God, and asked that God not hold this sin against them.

Our reading ends here, but with God there is always more to the story. After Stephen’s death, a severe persecution breaks out against the church in Jerusalem, and many people scattered in fear for their lives. Now here’s an example of God’s redeeming grace. Yes, the people scattered in fear, but they took the message of Jesus with them. So the gospel spreads throughout Judea and Samaria, beginning to fulfill Jesus’ final words before his ascension as recorded in Acts: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Pulpit Rock, Isle of Portland, UK. Photo by Chris Downer. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pulpit Rock, Isle of Portland, UK. Photo by Chris Downer. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Psalm 31 1-5, 15-16: Our psalm is attributed to David, and is a prayer for protection, trusting in God’s righteousness and strength. The psalmist prays, “Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.”

Psalm 31:1-5 is one of the Compline psalm selections in the Prayer Book. Click here to hear it sung by the Pittsburgh Compline Choir.

Apostle Peter,13th Century icon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Apostle Peter, 13th century icon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 2:2-10: In this week’s reading, Peter appeals to his readers (including us) to grow in Christian maturity. In order to live with new life in Christ, we need to stop some behaviors. The lectionary doesn’t include v.2:1, which tells us what to stop doing: “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.”

Then, using several figures of speech, Peter tells us what to do: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

He says to think of the church as God’s temple, with Jesus as the cornerstone, and we as the living stones. And just as Jesus was chosen by God, we, too, have been chosen and called out of darkness into the marvelous light of God to be his royal priesthood and a holy nation, and God’s own people. My, what an awesome privilege and holy calling we have.

Christ taking leave of the Apostles by Duccio (1260-1318). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Christ taking leave of the Apostles by Duccio (1260-1318). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 14:1-14: Our gospel passage this week is part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, which he gave to the disciples after the Last Supper. Earlier, Jesus tells his disciples that the end is near, and that where he is going, they cannot come. Peter wants to know, “Lord, where are you going?”

In this week’s reading, Jesus tells them not to worry. He is going away to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house, so they can live with Jesus and his Father forever. When the time comes, he will return for them. And, anyway, Jesus says, they already know the way. Thomas is confused. He said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Now Philip is confused. He said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Then Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

As our love grows, we are willing to take risks for God’s kingdom

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Clergy.

My dear sisters and brothers of Grace,

Carlton head shotI started my sojourn among you almost one year ago. This time has been challenging and joyful.  I came here not knowing quite what to expect and found a congregation full of God’s love and a willingness to trust that love into the unknown future. Your lives, both collectively and individually, have been a powerful witness to the reality of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

You have endured wounds that had the potential to kill you, but have seen those wounds transformed into life in the love of Jesus. You have faced the knowledge of the past, recognized that it had no control over you, and taken the steps necessary to redeem it. You have been a strong and hopeful witness to the whole church as we have confronted the evils of misogyny, sexism, and sexual abuse. While your work in this area is not complete, you have made a worthy beginning that has laid a strong foundation for future growth.

Yet the work you have admirably done is not simply the correcting of past injustices, as important as that is. Your work has been and is walking the way of the Cross. Your work has been claiming those portions of this community that have died and raising them, by the gracious will of God, to resurrection in Jesus Christ.

As our love for one another and the world grows more mature, more Christ-like, it inevitably becomes less defensive and fearful and more willing to take risks for God’s kingdom informed by the great tradition of the Church…that God’s will might be done on earth as in heaven. The treasures of our tradition that feed us are not simply things we have done in the past, but are activities that are formed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Our love becomes more Christ like as we are willing to accept more disciplines of holy living not simply for personal enrichment, but for the building up of Christ’s Body, the Church. I have no doubt that with your next rector Grace Church will continue to blossom into its fullest potential of Christ’s love.

The future is always fraught with uncertainties and it is best that we can never know our future until it happens. However, in the kingdom of God, the future is always one that brings us to a fuller knowledge of the love of God. In God’s love we are given the will to serve God, one another, and the world no matter what crosses the future may bring.

And so, we continue to say and to believe: Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The Rev. Carlton Kelley

 

Vestry minutes – 4/18/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

Vestry Members:  Clare Andreasson, Karl Bastian, James Deaton, Maria DiStefano-Post, Eddie Grim, Kathryn Holl, Sue Kelly, Michael Mittelstaedt, Bill Smith, Jeff Tibbits, Marian Vermeulen, Jeff Wescott (Absentees in Italics)

Guests Present: None
Staff Present:  Ann Hackett  
Clergy Present: The Rev. Carlton Kelley

Prayer and Check-in:
Carlton opened with a prayer and we checked in with one another.

Scripture & Study:
There was no study for this evening.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The agenda for the 4/18/17 meeting was approved by acclamation.
The minutes from the 3/21/2017 meeting were approved by acclamation.

Reports:
Rector Report: 
Carlton reported that we have some good news:

  • The Wednesday evening study group re: Sexual Abuse wants to continue to meet around the topic of forgiveness.
  • Steve Wade has organized a presentation on civilly talking about politics and religion, using a book by Senator John Danforth.
  • Carlton will contact Central United Methodist Church to see if we might arrange van pickup for our seniors who need transportation to church. Seniors would potentially ride from the parking garage used by Central to Grace.  Grace would offer to share this expense.
  • There is a spiritual gifts assessment tool on the diocesan website – (60 questions) that purports to help you discern what your spiritual gifts are.
  • Jubilee House will be the recipient of the funds and donations raised by a national meeting of barbershop quartets performing at a convention in Traverse City.
  • Grace has received an unrestricted gift of about $110,000 from the estate of Julie Christensen. Carlton recommends that the vestry tithe a portion of this gift and save the remainder for future special projects or needs.

Treasurer’s Report:
In the absence of Mark Stackable, Ann Hackett presented the financial report.
The finances are looking healthy.

Ann said that the Finance Committee recommends that we set up an auto-payment on the loan, which would make the payments more even and the interest more regular.

Parish Administrator Report:
2016 Audit: An audit of Grace Church financials is necessary before the arrival of a new rector.  Two quotes were secured:

  • Dennis, Gartland & Niergarth (DGN) $10,600
  • Vanderwal, Spratto & Richards (VSR) $8,000

Motion by Marian Vermeulen and seconded by Jeff Wescott to accept the quote of $8,000 from VSR to perform an audit of the 2016 financial records of Grace Church.  Motion approved.

Brown House Vacancy: The lower apartment will be vacated at the end of May, becoming available for rent, June 1, 2017.  The rent is currently $1200/mo.  The management company suggested a rent increase to $1300/mo.

 

Motion by Eddie Grim and seconded by Jeff Tibbitts to increase the rent from $1200/mo for the lower apartment to $1300/mo.  Motion approved.

Safeguarding God’s Children/Adults Certification: Grace Church has been participating and complying with the Diocesan Best Practices for Safeguarding children and adults since the Diocesan Convention laid out expectations in 2007. The Diocese requires certification but does not spell out expiration for the certification at this time.  The vestry/rector can determine their own requirements for renewal.  Discussion ensued.  Carlton pointed out that this is ultimately the decision of the rector. Eddie suggested that given we are in transition and anticipating a new rector, it may be wise not to take any action at this point. The topic was tabled pending the arrival of future rector.

Review Building Use Policy:
Policy was established in 2009 and now needs review.  Carlton pointed out that canonically the rector establishes the parameters for building use.  The topic was tabled pending the arrival of future rector.

Other Topics:
We are nearing the initiation of the work of the renovation of the Jubilee House emergency basement exit.

Carlton hosted a breakfast for newcomers on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Thank you to Sue Kelly and Ellen Schrader for their hospitality and attendance.

It became necessary to rekey the exterior doors of the church, parish hall, and Jubilee House on April 13, 2017.  An individual who volunteered at Jubilee House but who still retained his keys to church facilities, exhibited unpredictable behavior and entered the premises before business hours.

As a leader of the church, attendance is required at the Anti-Racism Training on Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 9:30am – 2:30pm at Grace Church.  Register on the Diocesan website.

The first quarterly Vestry update for the parish is scheduled for Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 11:30am.
June 4 (St Paul’s at Grace) and June 11 (Grace at St. Paul’s) is the Great Church Swap with St. Paul’s in Elk Rapids

There will be a special coffee hour on Sunday, April 23, 2017 for Donna Olendorf and Jeanette Kania who have been received into the Episcopal church by laying of hands by the Bishop in Grand Rapids.

Senior Warden Report:
At the executive committee meeting, September was discussed as a potential month for the 150th anniversary celebration of Grace Church.  The first planning meeting is set for May 4, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Sue, James, Marian, Karl, Ann, and Clare are all willing to be a part of this committee.

Clare offered a reminder to complete Safeguarding training if needed.

There has been some conversation about finding ways to participate in more outreach to refugees. Jeff Wescott suggested that he could act as a liaison.  The vestry agreed to the idea by acclamation.

The vestry may need to look at the budget to ponder if there is the ability to increase the hours of some staff, with some consideration of discrepancies and equity. Jeff Wescott suggested we discuss this during the May meeting.

We will need a vestry member to take the role of the alternate clerk in the event that Michael Mittelstaedt cannot attend a vestry meeting.

Clare thanked the vestry for their faithful, prayerful and thoughtful conversation with Bishop Hougland and Canon Spaid last month.

Junior Warden Report: None

Old Business: 
Karl reported that he is still gathering information regarding the costs and the logistics of advertising in the bulletins.

New Business: None

Forum for Congregational Concerns: None

Core Ministry Reports:
Eddie Grim recommended that the vestry establish a Jubilee House subcommittee which is charged with the development of a long-term plan for the continued management and operation of the Jubilee House Ministries.

Motion by Jeff Wescott and seconded by Marian Vermeulen that the proposed Jubilee House subcommittee be formed with the following members: Jubilee House Director Glenda Andrews, Grace Church Rector, vestry representatives Bill Smith, Eddie Grim, and Junior Warden, James Deaton, and volunteer representatives Jake Morse and Ed Emenheiser. Motion approved.

Rector Search Committee:
Marian reported that the Rector Search Committee will meet Thursday, April 20, 2017 with Canon Spaid who will present the list of candidates to the committee.

Follow-up & Follow-through:

  • Carlton will follow up with Central Methodist Church on the possibility of using their van for our parishioners who are experiencing difficulty due to our limited parking.
  • Sue Kelly will write thank you notes to Julie Christensen’s family for their generous donation from her estate.
  • Clare will find out what the vestry might be able to do in memory of Mary Lee Pakieser’s brother who recently passed away.

Compline followed by dismissal at 9:00pm

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Engaging the Word: 5/7/17 (The Fourth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10. Go to www.lectionarypage.net to read or print the weekly lectionary text. In our readings for Good Shepherd Sunday, we learn how the earliest Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship with one another, Peter instructed his readers to rejoice in suffering for doing the right thing, and Jesus described himself as the true shepherd who is the gate for the sheep.

Good Shepherd window at St. John the Baptist’s Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Good Shepherd window at St. John the Baptist’s Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 2:42-47: Most likely written by the author of Luke’s Gospel c. 85-95, The Book of Acts connects the Gospels and the Letters, the documents that form the majority of the New Testament. This week’s reading continues with the events of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit empowered the people to become the first Christian community.

Peasants breaking bread. 14th century manuscript. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Peasants breaking bread. 14th cent. manuscript. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The newly baptized “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (This probably sounds familiar, as it’s the first promise of our Baptismal Covenant.) Responding to the teachings of Jesus, all who believed shared money and possessions and attended to one another’s needs in a joyous sense of community. They continued to be devout Jews and “spent much time together in the temple” and, as followers of Jesus, the earliest Christians “broke bread at home” (Luke’s expression for the Eucharist), establishing a new way of being in community.

I found the idea of living in such a close community attractive and scary—I really want to follow Jesus, and, at the same time, I resist the totality of this vision of community. I read a few commentaries, and learned that many interpreters since the Reformation consider this passage of Acts as a utopian description of communal life, or maybe a record of the honeymoon period of Christianity, but one that was unsustainable as the church grew. So maybe we can’t return to the life of the earliest Christians, but as Christ’s disciples here in northern Michigan, we’re coming closer and closer. And I treasure our community in the joy of celebration, of doing God’s work together, and being available to one another when times are hard. That’s Grace.

  Psalm 23: In this week’s reading we have the Twenty-Third Psalm, in which David describes God as his shepherd. In the Wikipedia entry for Psalm 23, I learned about J. Douglas MacMillan. He was a minister in Scotland, a shepherd for 12 years, and wrote a book about the Twenty-Third Psalm. He maintains that the shepherd theme permeates the entire psalm. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Douglas MacMillan argues that verse 5 (“Thou preparest a table before me”) refers to the “old oriental shepherding practice” of using little raised tables to feed sheep. Similarly, “Thou anointest my head with oil” may refer to an ancient form of backliner – the oil is poured on wounds, and repels flies. MacMillan also notes that verse 6 (“Goodness and mercy shall follow me”) reminds him of two loyal sheepdogs coming behind the flock.

St. Peter by Pierre-Étienne Monnot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Peter by Pierre-Étienne Monnot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 2:19-25: This week’s reading is addressed to household slaves who are suffering unjustly. Peter argues that enduring unjust suffering wins God’s approval, and that one should imitate Christ: “When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”

This text was meant to provide encouragement to the faithful followers of Jesus who were suffering at the hands of the Romans. Peter reminds them that by Jesus bore our sins that we might live for righteousness. “For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

Drystone wall and gate near Drumkeeragh forest, UK. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Drystone wall and gate near Drumkeeragh forest, UK. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 10:1-10: In our reading this week, Jesus uses sheep and shepherd imagery to portray himself as the true shepherd (the Son of God) and gate for the sheep (God’s people), in contrast to the Pharisees who are thieves and bandits. Here is the entire reading:

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

The lectionary stops there, but Jesus continues in the next verse: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” And he did.

Voice of the vestry: Turn off the fan

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

By Maria DiStefano-Post

Member Maria DiStefano-PostNoise is ever constant, ever present, and ever persistent. Nothing makes me aware of noise more than when white noise, such as a fan, gets turned off. I take a deep breath and become aware of how agitated I have become.  If you are anything like me, most days, that is how I go through my life, except for those moments, that I call a gift, when I notice when the “fan” is turned off.

As a child I grew up in Detroit proper where listening to police and fire truck sirens, motorcycles, and hot rods in the middle of the night was common. As a teenager, I enjoyed listening to the construction of new homes being built on my street. They were comforting sounds after moving to the quiet suburbs.  These abrupt sounds still comfort me today.

The noise I speak of, though, is relentless! It is the sounds of daily life: people being negative, television and radio turned on in the background, cable news, and of course social media.  These noises continuously feed into our very being, whether we think that they affect us or not. They are a part of our lives unless we are fortunate enough not to live in this type of environment.  Do you choose not to turn it on in the first place? How do we become aware of the noise before it becomes a part of us? This is a constant struggle for me, falling in the trap of modern vices and not finding a healthy balance. I gave up Facebook for Lent and found that deep sense of relief: the fan had been turned off, for a time. I believe that constant noise blocks out the potential to feel truly serene. In a time of over-stimulation, it is imperative for those of you like me to make it a point to turn off the fan, before the white noise takes over.

How can this be done? Let’s turn back time to a time of reflection, pondering, and prayer. A time where families catch up daily at the dinner table. Where writing letters was therapeutic and wondrous to receive. Taking a walk wasn’t just for exercise but to find your footing in life. This spring I am going to make it a point to find these joys again that have been drowned out by the noise.

 

Engaging the Word: 4/30/17 (The Third Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

By Barbara Klugh

Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35. Go to www.lectionarypage.net to read or print the weekly lectionary text. We have great texts to continue our Easter celebration. Three thousand people are baptized, the psalmist praises God for his saving help, Peter urges disciples to live lives of purity and deep loving, and Jesus is made known in the breaking of the bread.

Baptism of the people by Andrea del Sarto c.1516. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Baptism of the people by Andrea del Sarto c.1516. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 2:14a, 36-41: This week we continue with Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. Last week Peter talked about the Resurrection of Jesus and coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples—that God raised Jesus from the dead “because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.” This proved that Jesus was not a false prophet as some of the Jewish leadership had claimed, but truly is the Messiah.

In this week’s reading, Peter concludes his Pentecost sermon. “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” When the crowd heard that they were implicated in the death of Jesus, “they were cut to the heart,” and asked what they should do. Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then their sins will be forgiven and they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand were baptized that day and were added to God’s household.

Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17: In this wonderful song of thanksgiving, the psalmist comes to the house of the Lord to make a thank-offering for God’s gracious rescue from distress and anguish. God “has heard the voice of my supplication,” and saved him. The psalmist promises to fulfill his vows to the Lord in gratitude for his deliverance.

The Apostle Peter icon c. 1500. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Apostle Peter icon c. 1500. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 1:17-23: In this week’s reading, Peter continues to encourage the Christian “aliens and exiles” who are living in the Roman Empire and suffering for their faith.

Peter reminds them that they should live in reverent fear of God their Father instead of the Roman culture. They were ransomed by the precious blood of Christ—the Lamb of God—so they can trust that God will not abandon them. God raised Jesus “from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.”

Then Peter exhorts his readers to live with pure souls and to “love one another deeply from the heart.” They, and we, have “been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Supper at Emmaus by anonymous Italian painter, 17th century. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Supper at Emmaus by anonymous Italian painter, 17th century. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Luke 24:13-35: This week we have the much-loved story of Jesus’ Post-Resurrection appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, which is reported only in Luke’s Gospel. Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, the women arrived at the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body. “Two men in dazzling clothes” announce that Jesus has been risen. When the women report this astonishing news to the apostles, it “seemed to them like an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Only Peter got up and ran to the tomb; “he saw the linen clothes by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.”

This week’s reading begins with two disciples walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus three days after the crucifixion of Jesus. As they are talking, Jesus (who they don’t recognize) joins them and asks, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” The disciples more or less say, Are you kidding? Are you the only one who doesn’t know what has happened? And they tell about him about Jesus of Nazareth, “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” who was executed by the Roman authorities. They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah who had been sent by God to redeem Israel and get rid of the Romans. And, they said, some women say that he is still alive. Jesus interrupts and says, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then Jesus takes them through the scriptures that referred to him and his mission.

When they get to Emmaus, they invite Jesus to stay with them, and he accepts.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

The two disciples went to Jerusalem (I bet they ran!), found the apostles and told them what happened. They told the disciples “how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”