In SCBC Adult Ed, we've been doing a series of short (~10min) films on faith communities and environmentalism. (Though after Haiti, we did a session on "Where Is God When Disaster Strikes?")
The first one was about evangelicals in Appalachia and mountaintop removal (something Annie B. preached on at CWM some months back).
The second one was an interfaith group in New Jersey -- helping finance solar panels for churches, doing a garbage audit, doing that carbon footprint quiz (which punchline tells you how many Earths we would need if everyone lived like you did); I loved all the practical examples.
This one was a Muslim community around Chicago getting into humanely raised/slaughtered meat. It also talked a lot about Ramadan -- the primarily Muslim woman in the video commented that during Ramadan it is particularly important that the food you break your fast with be ethically raised/slaughtered, which hadn't occurred to me but which made a lot of sense. (Technically you break your fast with like dates and milk before moving on to dinner, but the point still stands.) The same Muslim community also volunteered serving food to the hungry during Ramadan. There was definitely a lot about human connections -- the Muslim woman went out and met (and befriended) the farmers who would be supplying them. And one of the farmers trufax commented in the film that he wasn't sure what to expect at first 'cause he's in a rural area where there aren't very many Muslims, and most of what you hear about Muslims is "terrorists." He totally joined them for Ramadan dinner, though :) One of the Muslims talked about how in Islam it is not good to eat alone, and that the more people are present, the more blessings are in the food.
After the film, the first person who commented was Betty, who said that the dinner made her think of my church, with the dinner afterward :)
Later, I said that I hadn't realized that Islam had like the Jewish kosher rules, though I shouldn't be surprised, and I talked some about eco-kashrut (which I totally learned about at Temple Shalom Medford).
A lot of Owen's questions focused on, like, does this change your preconceptions about Muslims -- which I'm not sure was the most helpful route with this particular group, though an understandable angle (albeit one that totally wouldn't have occurred to me).
Owen asked if anyone want to close us in prayer, and I did.
Afterward, Betty asked me about the retreat. And when I was about done with that, Owen asked how my friend in Kansas City was doing.
As we hit a kind of conversational lull/wrap, Betty asked me what time I had to be at my next church, and I said it started at 10:30 (the wall clock said it was currently like 10:28) but that I wasn't really in a rush.
When she hugged me goodbye, Betty said she's so proud of me. I'm not sure what exactly prompted that, but I was happy to take it.
Walking to CHPC, I felt all bubbling over with joy.
So I was ~15 minutes late to CHPC, but I hadn't missed much -- just the welcome and announcements and most of the Introit.
Words of Assurance: it's all about grace -- all we have to do is admit we need it and it's there
During Passing of the Peace, Liz called me "gorgeous" (she complimented me on my shirt -- a black v-neck knit top with patterning along the neckline).
The Scripture readings were First Corinthians 15:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11, which were the assigned lectionary, but I don't think Karl made one single mention of them in his sermon. (This always makes me think of Ellen having commented during Adult Ed one time about how she has so much experience in churches where the sermon didn't relate at all to the Scripture that was read and how here the sermon is always connected to the Scripture.)
The sermon was titled "Being Church, Doing Church." Karl talked about how "being church" is a mindset, a worldview, while "doing church" is action. Okay.
He talked about how the essence of Christianity is community (quoting the saying that "there's no such thing as an individual Christian") -- getting past your self-preoccupation.
He opened the sermon with saying that he was talking about these theme because of the Annual Meeting upcoming later in the day, but he didn't really say useful specific stuff.
My most useful takeaway was the insert (excerpted from the PCUSA Constitution):
The Great Ends of the Church
--The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind
--The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind
--The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God
--The maintenance of divine worship
--The preservation of the truth
--The promotion of social righteousness
--The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world
The Meaning of Church Membership
A faithful member accepts Christ's call to be involved responsibly in the ministry of his Church. Such involvement includes:
--Proclaiming the good news
--Taking part in the common life and worship of a particular church
--Praying and studying Scripture and the faith of the Christian church
--Supporting the work of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents
--Participating in the governing responsibilities of the church
--Demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the Church
--Responding to God's activity in the world through service to others
--Living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life
--Working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment
During Prayers of the People, Craig lifted up Haiti. Randy told two stories -- one of someone who said he was fine, he just had a rock fall on his foot, but he was dead 1 week later from infection; and one of a person pulled out from rubble alive after 3 weeks. I cried.
The potluck luncheon was quite a spread. I asked Katherine what was in the dishes, and she told me who had made the various dishes so I could ask them and make labels. Ellen is my favorite because she had brought labels with ingredient lists. (Yes, I want labeling the food we put out to be just a natural part of What We Do. I mean, even if I didn't have any dietary restrictions, I would like to know what stuff is before I take a bite. And srsly, Corinne has food allergies -- how is this not already a thing we do?)
The Annual Meeting was better than I'd expected.
The woman who does the newsletter is moving to NYC in a few months. I did not volunteer to take it over (largely because I don't have a good program in which to do it in).
We moved the pastor to quarter-time, and Jeff delineated both Karl's "schedule" and also what Karl will now NOT be doing -- which turns out to all be building maintenance stuff. (My first thought had been: "Oh, so this helps explain why Karl said Session's beginning to talk about lay readers being more involved in leading worship," but apparently not -- and I wasn't gonna bring up worship planning at Annual Meeting, where we're passing the budget and stuff.)
Karl talked about North Prospect Union, which is a product of a merger -- and we wouldn't necessarily have to merge with them; we could worship together but still be distinct congregations. (This seemed bizarre to me, but then at CWM Linda said that she came back from renewal leave to find that her two tiny congregations want to continue worshiping together -- at least until the end of the appointment season -- though they definitely don't want to merge.) Apparently an elderly member of North Prospect has a house that he's basically promised to the church, and it needs a lot of work, but that could be an option. House church is now totally my new favorite option.
Karl said something about the April Session meeting, and I wrote down that I wanted to plan to go, but I forget why now.
There are a couple ethnic Presbyterian congregations (Hispanic, Taiwanese) that don't have their own building. Tufts has also expressed an interest in this building in the past.
We talked about maybe moving to Medford (lots of folks are getting fed up with Somerville -- parking, etc.).
"Jesus invites you to follow and define your own life in relationship to God. You are a child of God and no one can change that. You can change your name given at birth but the name God has given you will stand forever." -Ruben Duran
For Children's Time (in between the Scripture readings), Tiffany introduced Nizzi to the children and talked about making new friends and etc. Trelawney was totally crying. At Tiffany's request, I turned a bank of lights on when she started preaching, so she could read her text. Trelawney was sitting on the floor, and I sat down behind her and rubbed her shoulders. I actually sat with her for 15, maybe 20, minutes.
In her sermon, Tiffany talked about how this story of the calling of the first disciples is often told very briefly and is missing an important part of the Call narrative -- the resistance. She said lots of people, herself included, have made meaning out of the story of the disciples just leaving everything they have and following Jesus, but that she thinks there is also importance in this expanded version.
She talked about how Simon Peter in Luke and Isaiah both have the same reaction to the presence of the Divine -- "I'm not worthy."
She quoted Richard Wing -- "it is our feelings of unworthiness that prevent us from giving our gifts to the world."
She said we must respond to God's call out of a sense of our own belovedness rather than out of fear.
We did a ceremony of transition (which had Tiffany symbolically giving Nizzi the keys to the
The first congregational responsory was "While we are sad to part, we look forward to the new journeys on which we both embark," and I was okay, but then the next one was, "Thank you for the time we had together," and I got all choked up. Then I was okay again, but then I looked at Tiffany (who actually looked fine -- unlike during her sermon when I thought she looked red around the eyes like she was teary) and got all choked up again.
We are doing a lay-led Ash Wednesday service. \o/
(I still don't know of anywhere locally that's doing a Shrove Tuesday service, but that's okay. I sort of expect that First Church will have one, but they went on retreat this weekend and are going on a mission trip to Mexico next weekend, so I'm not sure how much they're on top of their programming.)
It hadn't occurred to me to think about a Lenten discipline until Trevanna asked over dinner. Yeah, I am increasingly liturgical, but I still spent my entire pre-college life thinking that Lent was just a Catholic thing (yes, I was that Low Church).
(Trevanna said she'd Googled our new interim pastor, and one of the results was my blog. I forget sometimes how Google-indexed this LJ is. Looking at my LJ -- pretty much all the recent public entries are about church.)