We Must Go Boldly and We Must Speak…

Preached from the pulpit of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Berkeley, on Sunday, August 23, 2015, by the Rev. Deacon Ellen L. Ekstrom:

The last time I stood in this pulpit I invited you by way of Christ to go to a deserted place and rest a while, to pause for a bit in the ministry you’ve been given.

Did you do it?

Me neither.

Okay, not right away. I really, really, meant to go off somewhere alone in my heart and mind in order to hear that still, quiet voice, but this world of ours just begs and screams for right action and it’s hard to look a challenge in the face and back down. I think this true for me, perhaps for you as well, that this is a time when Christ speaks to us at where we are. For me, and for some of you, maybe all of you, it’s at the metaphorical barricades that is life in our country today.

In his closing remarks to the church at Ephesus, Paul gives the Christians tools to fight the darkness and inhumanity in the world: “take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

This may ring archaic in our modern ears. We’re not meant to wear a full suit of armor nowadays. Besides, it’s heavy, weighs about sixty pounds and when you fall off a horse wearing it, you’re like a turtle on your back. Paul speaks to the church in terms they know. The armor of Roman legions was familiar. We only know them from art work, museums, books, movies and video games, but the analogy hasn’t changed. These metaphorical breastplates, greves, boots, sword and shield are ours with which we can confront and take on the injustice in a that has become more cynical, more dark, than the darkest of nights. Turn on your television, tap on your tablets, read the front page of a newspaper and you can see for yourself what we’re up against.

Paul is asking us to stand firm. We are being asked to stand on our convictions as Christians against bigotry, injustice, inequality, sexism, ageism and a host of ills – we all face it daily. We’re not being asked to take on something because it’s expedient and will win us popularity. Our choices will be difficult and sometimes, near impossible. Who is able to do this? Who among us can stand on convictions when the tide of popularity turns on us? Are we supposed to be rigid, intractable, Lone Rangers for Jesus righting the wrongs in society and demanding conformity to all things Episcopalian? We can’t get our fellow Episcopalians to agree with us at times; what makes you think we can persuade people in the elevator or the checkout line to accept living out the Gospel as it has been revealed to us?

We’re not being asked to be close-minded or stubborn, nor are we supposed to be wed to one opinion, again, we are Episcopalians. But, we are Children of God, we are followers in the Jesus Movement and we are asked to stand for something that is not transient, but something that is transcendent and life-giving, and that is God’s love through Christ. This means being willing to speak the truth, risk being unpopular, and call out those who, by their actions, seek to exclude, marginalize and harm people and to destroy creation because it suits their narrow and selfish way of thinking and agendas. It means taking risks, sometimes personal, like the three young men who stopped an attack on a French train this week, or making a ‘shield wall’ of bodies, hand-in-hand to protect a mosque, to put your life in danger fighting a wildfire. Or something innocuous like, losing so-called friends on social media because they’re of a different political party and you’re not and they don’t understand why you take a particular position.

It may mean speaking out, like, I’m sorry, certain members of Congress and Fox News and everyone riding in the clown car, I’m a woman and you’re not. You don’t speak for me, and you don’t tell me what I may and may not do with my body or my life. You don’t vilify the people you’ve made homeless because of your bad or greedy decisions where it comes to housing and finance. Come live on Market Street in a storefront entrance, or sleep in the Powell Street BART corridors on a rainy night, live without a home, food, or medical care, or live a day in the shoes of a parent trying to get by on minimum wage or less, then you’ll know what many of us go through. Know what it’s like to be hated or mistrusted because of the color of your skin. I’ll love you because I’m called to love you, because you’re one of God’s children, but I don’t have to agree with you. And I do not have to keep you in your cushy office where you can fatten up your big business friends and ignore the real problems that face most of us. You may have Wall Street in your corner, but I and so many like me have God all around me.

The whole armor that is God prepares us for struggle. Standing firm gives the struggle purpose and meaning. We may ask if it’s worth it, especially when it wears down our last nerve or if we’re not seeing results. The world was made in seven days. I suspect that our struggle to give true justice and equality to all will take a bit longer.

God, however, never ceases to be with us during these trials even though it may seem so at times. It is amazing when it happens. Our efforts will show that God is with us to the most cynical of unbelievers, and that with God nothing is impossible; that the love we offer through our actions is through God and we offer it willingly and without reservation. Even if, heaven forbid, the message doesn’t get through, we will still hear, “Well done, good and trusty servant!” We will have ministered to the least of the members of the community. It is that whispering in our ears that lets us know that God is paying attention and there is hope for a better world for all.

It is affirming and amazing when this happens.

And now my sisters and brothers in Christ, pray that we may declare it boldly, as we must speak.

Announcements for the Week of August 30 – September 5, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

 

The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 17/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching  and Presiding Today is

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews, Working Group Head for Communications, Diocese of California

 

The Texts This Week:

RCL:  Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Please pray for:  Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, Alicia Carter (preparing for knee surgery), and for Carol Franger and Dan Ng.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

TODAY – SUNDAY, August 30, 2015:

THIS MORNING we welcome The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews, who will preach and preside today.  Joseph is the Working Group Head for Communications in the Diocese of California.  Welcome, Joseph!

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31.   He may be reached at 510 230-7514.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

THE FRIDAY LUNCH Ministry could use a blender, a large wood chopping board and an electric tea kettle/warmer. Help with clean up would also be appreciated.  Please see Beth Montano if you have what they’re looking for.

 

and. . .

 

WE NEED A DRIVER who can go to the Alameda County Community Food Bank on Thursday morning (they close at 3 p.m.) to pick up whatever is available in fruits, vegetables, proteins, snack foods, and other needs for our Pantry.  Please see Teddy Knight for details, and if you’re interested in volunteering for this valuable ministry.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD REVOLVING LIBRARY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Have great books you read and do not have space for?  Please donate to the Good Shepherd Revolving Library in the parish hall.  All are welcome to pick up and read.  You can return, or better yet, donate books, be they fiction or non-fiction.  Here’s your opportunity to find an undiscovered gem, a quick summer read!  The bookcase is now marked in English and Spanish and stands at the north end of the room directly to your left as you enter the parish hall.

 

CASSEROLES WITH CARE: Our parishioner, Alicia Carter, is preparing for surgery in September and will appreciate help with meals and daily tasks.  A calendar of tasks and needs has been set up for Alicia by her daughter, Jonna Carter Fonda.  If you would like to bring a homemade casserole or meal, please see Ellen for details and how to sign up.

 

BREAD FOR THE WORLD’S “PRAYERS TO END HUNGER.”  You will have noticed that Ellen is attaching Bread for the World’s “Prayers to End Hunger” to the e-mail blasts with the announcements.  If you’d like more information about Bread for the World, of which Good Shepherd is a member congregation, please see Ellen.  Bread also offers letter writing campaigns, resources and programs to bring public awareness of hunger in our communities, nation, and worldwide to our legislators and leaders.

 

NO ONE LIKES A TRAFFIC JAM, especially on Sunday mornings when we’re getting ready to worship!  Please keep the small corridor between the church and sacristy and the north entrance into the church clear of traffic for our ministers, clergy and staff at work before and after the 11:00 Service, and most importantly, for our friends who need the ramp.

 

 

ONGOING SERVICES

 

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical.  Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate.  The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

 

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS.  Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.  The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments.  The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at  1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.

 

Announcements for the Week of August 25-30, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

 

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 16/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching  Today is The Rev. Ellen L. Ekstrom

Presiding  Today is The Rev. Eric Metoyer

The Texts This Week:

RCL:  1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

Please pray for:  Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, The Rev. Este Gardner Cantor (who broke her wrist in Ireland!), Alicia Carter (preparing for knee surgery), and for Carol Franger and Dan Ng.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

 

TODAY – SUNDAY, August 23, 2015:

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31.   He may be reached at 510 230-7514.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

THANKS to everyone who participated in the Good Shepherd Birthday Celebration!

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD REVOLVING LIBRARY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Have great books you read and do not have space for?  Please donate to the Good Shepherd Revolving Library in the parish hall.  All are welcome to pick up and read.  You can return, or better yet, donate books, be they fiction or non-fiction.  Here’s your opportunity to find an undiscovered gem, a quick summer read!  The bookcase is now marked in English and Spanish and stands at the north end of the room directly to your left as you enter the parish hall.

 

CASSEROLES WITH CARE: Our parishioner, Alicia Carter, is preparing for surgery in September and will appreciate help with meals and daily tasks.  A calendar of tasks and needs has been set up for Alicia by her daughter, Jonna Carter Fonda.  If you would like to bring a homemade casserole or meal, please see Ellen for details and how to sign up.

 

GOOD SHEPHERD’S OWN RED STEVENS is profiled at the Episcopal Cafe.com.  To read about the St. Christopher Mission to the Navajo Nation in Utah, go to http://www.episcopalcafe.com/episcopal-mission-continues-to-serve-navajo-nation/.

 

BREAD FOR THE WORLD’S “PRAYERS TO END HUNGER.”  You will have noticed that Ellen is attaching Bread for the World’s “Prayers to End Hunger” to the e-mail blasts with the announcements.  If you’d like more information about Bread for the World, of which Good Shepherd is a member congregation, please see Ellen.  Bread also offers letter writing campaigns, resources and programs to bring public awareness of hunger in our communities, nation, and worldwide to our legislators and leaders.

 

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITYST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: A DAY OF LEARNING FOCUSED ON FORMATION AND LEADERSHIP — ALL ARE WELCOME!  Please see the flyer sent with the Announcements and Ellen if you are interested in attending, especially for Eucharistic ministers.  The training for this particular ministry requires some ‘homework’ before the actual meeting in August.

 

ONGOING SERVICES

 

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical.  Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate.  The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

 

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS.  Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.  The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments.  The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at  1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.

Announcements for the Week of August 16-25, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 15/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching  Today is Mr. Logan Rimel

Presiding  Today is The Rev. Dr. Jay Emerson Johnson

The Texts This Week:

RCL: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; and John 6:51-58

Hymns:  446; 313; 761 (WLP) and 420

 

Please pray for:  Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, Ernest, friend of Joseph Caggiano, for the continued healing of Tony, Tom Slocomb’s grandson, and Jonna, daughter of Alicia Carter, and for Carol Franger and Dan Ng.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

 

TODAY – SUNDAY, August 16, 2015:

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31.   He may be reached at 510 230-7514.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

GOOD SHEPHERD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION TODAY!  Who doesn’t like a birthday party?  Our fabulous choir, The Sometime Singers, will offer music during the service and afterwards all are invited to attend a festive potluck coffee hour.  Please bring a favorite dish of yours to share as we celebrate our 137th birthday.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD REVOLVING LIBRARY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Have great books you read and do not have space for?  Please donate to the Good Shepherd Revolving Library in the parish hall.  All are welcome to pick up and read.  You can return, or better yet, donate books, be they fiction or non-fiction.  Here’s your opportunity to find an undiscovered gem, a quick summer read!  The bookcase is now marked in English and Spanish and stands at the north end of the room directly to your left as you enter the parish hall.

 

BREAD FOR THE WORLD’S “PRAYERS TO END HUNGER.”  You will have noticed that Ellen is attaching Bread for the World’s “Prayers to End Hunger” to the e-mail blasts with the announcements.  If you’d like more information about Bread for the World, of which Good Shepherd is a member congregation, please see Ellen.  Bread also offers letter writing campaigns, resources and programs to bring public awareness of hunger in our communities, nation, and worldwide to our legislators and leaders.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITYST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: A DAY OF LEARNING FOCUSED ON FORMATION AND LEADERSHIP — ALL ARE WELCOME!  Please see the flyer sent with the Announcements and Ellen if you are interested in attending, especially for Eucharistic ministers.  The training for this particular ministry requires some ‘homework’ before the actual meeting in August.

 

ONGOING SERVICES

 

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical.  Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate.  The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

 

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS.  Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.  The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments.  The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at  1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.

Odds and Ends of Scripture

Preached from the pulpit of Good Shepherd Berkeley by The Rev. Dr. L. Wm. Countryman on the Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost, August 9, 2015:

Proper 14B: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6: 35, 41-51
It’s hard to imagine a more oddly assorted set of readings than the ones we’ve just heard: a bit of family tragedy from the story of David, a Psalm making a desperate plea for help, some sober moral advice from Ephesians, and a very obscure speech about bread from John’s Gospel. My usual approach to preaching from texts like these is to pick one, develop some of its meaning and implications, and bypass the others.

Today, though, I want to look at all four readings. One reason for that is just to underline the fact that this is what the Scriptures are really like. They’re not organized by topic. One passage differs dramatically from another. There’s no single theological thread that ties everything together.

The one thing that does tie it all together is that God is for ever trying to speak to real human beings in the worlds where we live. And given how different our worlds can be and how different we can be, Scripture is bound to use a variety of voices. Sometimes, it plays poet, sometimes story-teller, sometimes advice columnist, sometimes teacher of spiritual mysteries.
How, then. does Scripture address us in this morning’s readings? Probably the most powerful of them, the one we all immediately relate to in some way, is Psalm 130. When we’re really in a bind, really at the end of our rope, this is the go-to passage:

Out of the depths have I called to you;

O God, hear my voice. . .

It says just about everything you need in a desperate situation. It admits that we’re not perfect and appeals to God anyway. More than that, it expects God to help—even insists on it:

I wait for you, O God; my soul waits for you;

in your word is my hope.

My soul waits for you,

more than sentries for the morning,

more than sentries for the morning.

And notice here how the perspective has subtly shifted. It starts in the pit, the depths, the place you can’t see out of. It winds up on the city wall, watching for the dawn with the sentries. Up here, we can see out again—and see forward into a future that we weren’t sure would come to pass when we were trapped down there in the depths.

We’ve turned from desperation to hope, from being trapped by the immediate danger to seeing future possibility. It doesn’t preach hope, or command us to hope. It embodies it—and invites us to express it even before we can quite feel it.
The story from Second Samuel, by contrast, is drenched in grief. Absalom is David’s favorite son, despite having been a lifelong problem. And now, he’s rebelled and is actually trying to kill his father so that he can be king himself. Despite that, David can’t bring himself to hate him—even tries to protect him. He puts his commanders under specific, public orders not to harm him. But Joab, who was a brutal man but a clear-eyed politician, knows better and has his bodyguard kill ill him when they find him hanging in the tree. David is completely overwhelmed by his grief. The scene where he cries out for Absalom is as devastating as anything in Greek tragedy. And it’s almost as well-known as our Psalm this morning—maybe because it allows us to revisit our own griefs in that of David.

But there’s more to this story—a part that doesn’t get read in church, but is equally important: Joab gives David a while to grieve, but then he goes to him and reminds him that, however deep his distress, he is still the king: “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your officers who have saved your life today and the lives of your sons and your daughters, and the lives of your wives and your concubines, for love of those who hate you and for hatred of those who love you. . . . So go out at once and speak kindly to your servants; for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night.” (2 sam. 19:5,7)

It was brutal, but Joab was right. He forced David out of his despair by confronting him with the needs of his kingdom, of the people for whom he was responsible. In our Psalm, we experienced a turning from despair to hope, from past to future. In this story there is another, related kind of turning, a turning outward. David leaves his private grief because his community needs him. And this turning brings a certain hope. I would guess that it saved not only David’s kingship but probably his sanity as well.
It’s a shock, after the story of David and Psalm 130, to turn the pages of the Bible over and get a little moral pep talk from the author of Ephesians. Pep talks like this were a standard feature of ancient letter writing—so much so that ancient rhetoric had a technical term for them, parainesis. Almost every New Testament letter has a section like this near the end. You can almost see the finger wagging while you listen, but much of the advice was standardized and is actually pretty good: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. . . ” Well, yeah!

Still, it runs the risk of making religion sound like just a matter of following rules—or at least of feeling guilty for not following them. The first Christians, we think, must have been goody-two-shoes. But look again. What is this bit about? “Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.” Wait a minute! There are thieves in the Christian audience? They weren’t all perfect? They didn’t all come to church justs to show how good they were? That’s surprise number one.

Surprise number two: the author doesn’t rake them over the coals, doesn’t say “Bad! No! Stop that!” Instead, he says, “There are people who need your help. Figure out how to make a steady income so that you can give it.”

There’s actually an echo here of our story about David. This passage is also calling for that turn outward, to the larger world. David was interested only in his grief. The thief is interested only in oneself. David had to do turn outward because he was king. We Christians have to do it because we’re part of a community where everybody has gifts to share. Our author wants the thief not just to “stop doing that” but to turn around and become part of this community of gifts.
So what do we have so far? Three turnings. From despair to hope. From devastating private grief to renewed kingship. From a life concerned only with self to a life that embraces others. These are all turnings toward fuller human life, toward a future that can still bring good, despite past sufferings and losses and wrong-doing.

And the reading from John’s Gospel is also about turning forward and outward. It has often been misread as something else—as a doctrinal pronouncement that Jesus has founded the one true religion and that everyone must agree with Christianity and receive its sacraments. Otherwise, too bad for you.

But that’s wrong. The Jesus of John’s Gospel isn’t talking about Christian doctrine here. He’s talking about his own life and the kind of turning that he wants to bring about in our lives s well: a turn from defensiveness and fear and self-justification to a life seen as the gift of God. I believe the whole Gospel of John is about this turning, as I argued years ago in a The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel.

When Jesus says things like “I am the bread of life” and “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” he isn’t speaking literally. His audience is quite right to say that this makes no sense on the literal level. He’s saying rather that the kind of freedom with which he lived—even to the point of risking and losing his life—can make us free, can sustain our life, can help us claim the full gift of the humanity God has willed for us. His life offers us a turn forward into the future, a turn outward into human community—a turn toward hope, toward kingship, toward generosity, toward life itself.
None of these texts, on the surface, seems to have much to do with the others. But sometimes the Scriptures show a deeper level of coherence underneath their surface. Here it takes the form of a call to turn toward new hope and trust and love. That turning is not made in a single moment of human life, but over and over again. And probably the greatest gift that God gives us in the Scriptures is the repeated reminder of it in so many different forms.

Announcements for the Week of August 9-14, 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

 

The Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 14/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching Today is

The Rev. L. Wm. Countryman

 

Presiding Today is

The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson

 

The Texts This Week:

RCL: 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 + Psalm 130 + Ephesians 4:25-5:2 + John 6:35, 41-51

Hymns:  577 + 301 + 760 (WLP) + 593

Please pray for:  Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, Ernest, friend of Joseph Caggiano, for the continued healing of Tony, Tom Slocomb’s grandson, and Jonna, daughter of Alicia Carter, and for Carol Franger and Dan Ng.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

TODAY – SUNDAY, August 9, 2015:

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31.   He may be reached at 510 230-7514.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD REVOLVING LIBRARY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Have great books you read and do not have space for?  Please donate to the Good Shepherd Revolving Library in the parish hall.  All are welcome to pick up and read.  You can return, or better yet, donate books, be they fiction or non-fiction.  Here’s your opportunity to find an undiscovered gem, a quick summer read!  The bookcase is now marked in English and Spanish and stands at the north end of the room directly to your left as you enter the parish hall.

 

OUR THANKS TO KYLE SESSIONS for his musical offering while Randy is away.

 

BREAD FOR THE WORLD’S “PRAYERS TO END HUNGER.”  You will have noticed that Ellen is attaching Bread for the World’s “Prayers to End Hunger” to the e-mail blasts with the announcements.  If you’d like more information about Bread for the World, of which Good Shepherd is a member congregation, please see Ellen.  Bread also offers letter writing campaigns, resources and programs to bring public awareness of hunger in our communities, nation, and worldwide to our legislators and leaders.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

GOOD SHEPHERD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, AUGUST 16, 2015.  Who doesn’t like a birthday party?  Our fabulous choir, The Sometime Singers, will offer music during the service and afterwards all are invited to attend a festive potluck coffee hour.  Please bring a favorite dish of yours to share as we celebrate our 137th birthday.

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Ellen if you are interested in attending, especially for Eucharistic ministers.  The training for this particular ministry requires some ‘homework’ before the actual meeting in August.

 

ONGOING SERVICES

 

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical.  Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate.  The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

 

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS.  Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.  The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments.  The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at  1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.

Rest a While

Sermon preached by The Rev. Deacon Ellen L. Ekstrom, from the pulpit of Good Shepherd Berkeley on July 19, 2015:

 

I’d like to preface my thoughts today with a confession – this is my pot-calling-the-kettle-black sermon.  This is my cautionary tale.

After reading the lessons over several times, including the tempting, tantalizing, words of the prophet Jeremiah jumping out at me with it’s woe and finger-pointed at leaders behaving badly, one point really grabbed me and illustrated life as we know it today.  My life especially.  Probably your lives.

I’d like to offer these words about weariness.

For a while there’s been fear not only of Obama invading Texas but of a “Zombie Apocolypse.”  Well, my friends, it’s happened and it’s here and now.  I see them on Market Street and Montgomery Street – people plugged in, distracted, working on the run, working non-stop, maybe getting in a five-minute breather for something to eat.  They pound away on laptop keyboards or tap iPads and Android tablets at the four Starbucks’ in my area downtown.  I’ve heard in elevators and on crowded trains what I think are astonishing comments akin to bragging about this work ethic on steroids.  I hurt for them and understand all too well, because a lot of this ethic comes from the top.  These kinds of supervisors and managers are the bad shepherds Jeremiah speaks of.  Rather than look after their corporate flocks, they seek the bottom line in black, a pie chart showing profit, a new book of clients.  Happiness for the sheep in the cubicles?  What’s that?  They should be glad they have jobs.  And don’t we know it.  It is expected of too many workers now to stay plugged in and be available.   Computers, which were supposed to ease our labors, have made it easier to assign more tasks in less time.  Workers are expected to churn out the paper in record time and they do and move on to the next project.

Some people may enjoy this fast paced environment.  I don’t.  I am part of the problem, though.  Thank God for Jesus finally opening my eyes and my mind and telling me to slow down.

When I recognized this behavior in myself and others, I thought, “Even Jesus took a break,” and I went back to whatever I was doing with someone usually asking if I wanted anything as they placed the order for take-away.

God rested on the seventh day.   Once in a while Jesus went up the mountain or a quiet, deserted place to get away from it all and in this morning’s scripture from the gospel of Mark, he urges the apostles to do the same.

We are told that they gathered around Jesus and told him all that they were doing and all that they were teaching, and, apparently, they were very busy. They were so busy, we are told, that they didn’t even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

How astonishing this must have sounded to them.  Here they were bringing more and more people to Jesus, building the community and he asks them to take a break.  He didn’t ask for spreadsheets tracking their work or timesheets with the week’s target of billable hours met.  New branding proposals and marketing tactics weren’t brainstormed.  No networking.

He told them to take a break and to rest.

Don’t we all long to hear these words spoken to us?

Jesus is speaking to us.  This is an invitation to take time, not find time, to spend time with God and him, for it is as necessary as food and drink and sleep.

Our faith requires us to undertake the work God calls us to, and to believe in Christ and follow his teaching and example.  But some of us take it to the extreme.  We work ourselves to exhaustion:  this and our never-ending to-do lists and desire to prove to ourselves and our neighbors that our value comes from how much we accomplish, and the expectation of divine favor, of God-Points, of a seat at the table.

How good is that work if we are so busy that we lose sight of why we do it?  How fruitful is our labor if it wears us out to the point of ‘I don’t want to do this anymore?’

I was, and still am to a point, the pot calling the kettle black.  It took me a while to understand that in order to use those gifts given to me by God I have to know why I have them and how to use them and I can only do that by stopping and being with God.  It was a difficult transition borne of years of conditioning by society and by what I thought was required of me as a Christian, by being told that was what I needed to do if I wanted to get to Heaven.

We are valued and loved in the sight of God.  Christ loves us because we do as we are called, because we see him in our neighbors and strangers and loved ones.  They both know what we need even when we do not, or we think we know.   Jesus looks past all our perceptions of what it means to be successful and to bear the fruit of work and he doesn’t even mention them, because if he did, he would have to remind us that all that we are and all that we do are gifts from God in the first place. Rather, he looks into our hearts and sees what we truly desire, what we truly need. He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the still waters and restores our souls. And he says to us, “Come away to a place all by yourselves and rest a little while with me.”

I intend and will strive to do just that: to go to a place all alone and rest.  I will make the time every day.  But I won’t be alone.  Jesus will be with me.  And I will be with you as you go to your deserted place.

 

Announcements for the Week of July 26-August 1, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 12/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching  today is

The Rev. Dr. Jay Emerson Johnson

Presiding  today is

The Rev. Dr. L. Wm. Countryman

 

The Texts This Week:

RCL:  2 Kings 4:42-44  + Psalm 145: 10-19+ Ephesians 3:14-21+ John 6:1-21

Hymns:  51 + 343 + 820 (WLP) + 448

Please pray for:  Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, Ernest, friend of Joseph Caggiano, for the continued healing of Tony, Tom Slocomb’s grandson, and Jonna, daughter of Alicia Carter, and for Carol Franger and Dan Ng.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

TODAY – SUNDAY, JULY 26, 2015:

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31.   He may be reached at 510 230-7514.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD REVOLVING LIBRARY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Have great books you read and do not have space for?  Please donate to the Good Shepherd Revolving Library in the parish hall.  All are welcome to pick up and read.  You can return, or better yet, donate a book(s) you are fond of and have no space for.  The bookcase will be clearly marked.

Our Deacon, The Rev. Ellen Ekstrom, is taking a day off.  She’ll be back in vestments July 31, 2015.

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

VAJRA VOICES RETURNS TO GOOD SHEPHERD, JULY 31, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.   If you missed Vajra at its Christmas concert at Good Shepherd, now’s your chance to hear them.  This exceptional women’s choir led by Karen R. Clark with Shira Kammen on vielle, will offer works by Hildegard von Bingen to celebrate the Divine Feminine.  Suggested donation for the concert is $20.00.

The Rev. Barbara Hill’s memorial will be at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany, California, on Saturday, August 8, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow. If one wishes, please make donations to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Barbara’s honor. No flowers per Barbara’s request, please.

GOOD SHEPHERD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, AUGUST 16, 2015.  Who doesn’t like a birthday party?  Our fabulous choir, The Sometime Singers, will offer music during the service and afterwards all are invited to attend a festive potluck coffee hour.  Please bring a favorite dish of yours to share as we celebrate our 137th birthday.

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Ellen if you are interested in attending, especially for Eucharistic ministers.  The training for this particular ministry requires some ‘homework’ before the actual meeting in August.

 

THE MONTHLY FIRST SUNDAY SCRIPTURE CLASS is on a summer hiatus until the fall, returning on October 25, 2015.

 

ONGOING SERVICES:

 

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical.  Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate.  The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

 

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS.  Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.  The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments.  The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at  1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.

This is The Night

Preached from the Pulpit of Good Shepherd Church on Maundy Thursday – April 2, 2015 by the Rev. Ellen L. Ekstrom:

In the Exsultet, there is a line, “This is the night,” where the deacon chants about the early hours of Easter Day when Christ bursts from the tomb.

It is this this deacon’s opinion that THIS is THE night.

This is the night when the master becomes the servant and a new fellowship is created. A new family is born. It begins with humility and love.

You and I know the sacredness of fellowship, especially that which share at the table every day. We need food to survive but the nourishment of our hearts and souls we receive when sitting down with our beloved families and friends I believe is far more important.

Long ago there was a dinner party like that. Friends gathered for the Passover Seder. We gather tonight. We gather every Sunday and every opportunity we can.

We call this night Maundy Thursday for the mandate Jesus gives us in The New Commandment – to love one another. At this supper, a family of friends became something more.
This is the evening of mandates that took everyone who followed Jesus one step closer to the astounding and profound act of love we know as the Crucifixion. Jesus took a sacred meal that was symbolic of the sufferings, trials and triumphs of the people of Israel and made it into something new. He took the Seder and made it a symbol of his own suffering and its power through God, his overwhelming love for God and us, to deliver us from sin and death.

It was during this meal Jesus presented two mandates to his followers.

The first is what we call the “New Commandment.” He said, “I give you a new commandment; that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

The second mandate was not only an expression of love, but an expression of ministry – service to one another in Christ’s name. Jesus, the Rabbi, becomes the servant and as we have heard this evening, washes the feet of his disciples. This act was, and is, an outward and visible sign of God’s love in Christ.
Peter was aghast, and wanted no part of it. Jesus said to him, “Unless I wash you, you have no share in me.”

Unless I wash you, you have no share in me.

Let me serve you, so that you might serve God and one another. I do it because I love you. You will be with me in the Kingdom of Heaven if you do these things; Love the baker and love the tax collector, the scribe, the High Priest. Love the congressman, the fundamentalist, the social media mogul, the high school student, the person with issues.

This right action and the New Commandment were, like everything Jesus did, revolutionary. Someone hearing this and witnessing the event would have proclaimed Jesus mad. Forget about kings? Forget about emperors? Forget the Priests, the Pharisees and Saduccees, the merchant class? Love the slave as much as the master? Treat women as equals? Forget about Rome?

Giving unconditional love is revolutionary. People were and are conditioned by social class and gender, culture and bias. One just didn’t go to supper with tax collectors or deal with women who used expensive perfumed oil and tears to wash feet; you didn’t love someone just … because.

Do I need to say that we face social class, gender and culture bias today? No. You and I know it; we see it every day and experience it. We also are speaking out against it in Indiana, Arkansas, Africa and the Middle East. Yes, the barriers are coming down.

If we are so willing to break down the barriers of class and race, then we should also break down the barriers we’ve put up around our hearts and love. Simply love. Just as we are commanded to do.

When we wipe away a tear, bandage a physical wound, greet one another, give assistance, offer food and drink, patiently attend and listen, kneel down and wash someone’s feet, we show an outward sign of our willingness to live out the new commandment.

Jesus is kneeling before us, speaking to us. If you and I, all of us, wish to have a share in Jesus, we must be ready and willing to engage in Christ-like work. We have to put ourselves after those we serve. This evening, we are not simply memorializing archaic, ancient rituals in remembrance of historical events; we are making our actions acts of love, our responses to powerful mandates, our experience, our way of connecting our corporal life to Jesus and all who followed him then and now.
We are guests invited home for that final supper Jesus shared in the upper room. We are his friends and followers as we break the bread and share the one cup, and be servants to one another. It is, my friends, only what is being asked of us by Christ.

How can we refuse?

Announcements for the Week of July 12-18, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 10/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

Preaching and Presiding today is The Rev. Eric Metoyer
The Texts This Week:
RCL: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Psalm 24; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

Hymns: 67, 601, 295 and 686

Please pray for: Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, The family of Andrea Thompson, Ernest, friend of Joseph Caggiano, for the continued healing of Tony, Tom Slocomb’s grandson, and Jonna, daughter of Alicia Carter, and for Roberta Ekstrom Johnson, sister of Ellen Ekstrom and aunt to Celia, Carlos R. and Nicolas.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is the Rosa Parks Elementary School, Berkeley.

 

DON’T DEPORT DANIEL! Help Daniel Maher, director of Berkeley’s Ecology Center for the past ten years, stay in the United States.  Twenty years after a conviction and service of a seven year sentence for a robbery he committed with other boys, ICE agents raided Daniel’s home in June 2015 and took him to a detention center. Because of his conviction, ICE has designated him as a top priority for deportation and a threat to public safety. Daniel has been in the United States since the age of three when he was brought from Macau by his parents.  He’s paid his debt to Society for his crime.

Cut-and-Paste this link to help:
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/berkeley-worker-faces-deportation-to-country-he-does-not-know

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Javier Torres will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from July 7 through August 31. He may be reached at 510 230-7514. Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.
SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

SOLO ART SHOW AT NIAD FOR CARLOS R. FERNANDEZ. Carlos Fernandez, Deacon Ellen’s eldest son, will have a solo art show at NIAD Art Center at 551 23rd Street, Richmond, California and running July 13-25. The Opening Reception will be on July 11, 2015 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Carlos will exhibit his watercolors in the Storefront Gallery of the studio and his work will be for sale. Carlos also works at Creative Growth in Oakland. NIAD is a studio visual art program for artists with disabilities.

THE HORNS A PLENTY BRASS BAND will present a program of Swing, Jazz, Ragtime, Dixieland and a little novelty besides at Good Shepherd on July 19, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. The cost of admission will be $15.00.

THE REV. BARBARA HILL’S MEMORIAL will be at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany, California, on Saturday, August 8, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow. If one wishes, please make donations to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Barbara’s honor. No flowers per Barbara’s request please.

GOOD SHEPHERD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, AUGUST 16, 2015. Who doesn’t like a birthday party? Our fabulous choir, The Sometime Singers, will offer music during the service and afterwards all are invited to attend a festive potluck coffee hour. Please bring a favorite dish of yours to share as we celebrate our 137th birthday.

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries. Please see Ellen if you are interested in attending, especially for Eucharistic ministers. The training for this particular ministry requires some ‘homework’ before the actual meeting in August.

THE MONTHLY FIRST SUNDAY SCRIPTURE CLASS is on a summer hiatus until the fall, returning on October 27, 2015.

ONGOING SERVICES:

WEDNESDAY NOON PRAYER AND LAYING ON OF HANDS continues during Este’s sabbatical. Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Teddy Knight will officiate. The service begins at noon in the church and uses the noon prayer service from the New Zealand Prayer Book. Meditation and laying on of hands for healing are also offered.

BRINGING THE EUCHARIST TO OUR NEIGHBORS. Join us as we bring the Eucharist to Strawberry Creek Lodge at 2:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month. The Rev. Teddy Knight, Tom Slocumb and The Rev. Susan Bergmans will officiate at an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.” Bread and wine will be consecrated at our table at the 11:00 a.m. service, and the ministers will be commissioned to bring the sacraments. The Strawberry Creek Lodge is located at 1320 Addison near Acton in Berkeley.