Announcements for the Week of June 28 – July 4, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 8/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

 

Preaching  today is The Rev. William Trego

and Presiding today is The Rev. Dr. Jay Emerson Johnson

The Texts This Week:

RCL:  2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27,  Psalm 30,  2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43

Hymns: 568, 530, 521, 773 (WLP)

 

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 her family;  for the martyrs of Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, and their families, friends and parishioners, for the Cal Students who died at the Library Garden Apartments.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is GirlsGo, a program for middle school girls, which offers a Saturday program during the school year and a month-long summer program.  The program includes a safe “extended family” group & excursions to broaden horizons.

TODAY – SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2015:

 

TODAY WE WELCOME  The Rev. William Trego as our preacher.  Bill and his family are new members of our flock and comes from the United Methodist Church.  Welcome, Bill!

 

THE Sandwich Ministry (Mondays) and Hot Lunch (Fridays) need a few good volunteers.  If you have a morning free, on Monday or Friday, check us out and see if you would enjoy the job.  You can also talk to Teddy Knight at coffee hour to learn about this very important ministry to our West Berkeley neighborhood.

 

LIKE COFFEE HOUR?  Many of us do – it’s fellowship as important as our Eucharist.  Hopefully we can get a few volunteers to set up and take down coffee hour in the parish hall, so that last week’s absence of fellowship won’t be repeated.  It takes no more than 30 minutes to set up, set out the food and brew the coffee, even less time to clean up.  If you can spare 30 minutes on a Sunday, please see Ellen or Dan.  All we need are four people to take one Sunday a month and you can take set up or clean up.

 

Bill Countryman has begun a blog at billcountryman.com and he invites your comments and suggestions.  One aspect of it is a reprise of the material discussed in our monthly Scripture Class. He’s also writing about gardening and other topics.

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Anne Jenson will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from May 22 through July 6.  She may be reached at 510-917-3630.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

THE THIRD QUARTER ROTA will be distributed to Liturgical Ministers and Clergy on Sunday evening.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

AN EVENING WITH CORNEL WEST.  July 7, 2015, 7:00 p.m.  Join Dr. Cornel West at the Berkeley AME Church at Ashby and Adeline in Berkeley.  Dr. West will share his thoughts on race and justice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

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 in July.  Carlos has exhibited art work at the California State Capitol in Loni Hancock’s office, at Catholic Charities and other venues.  For this show, Carlos will exhibit his watercolors.  NIAD is a studio visual art progam for artists with disabilities.

 

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.

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Este or 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.

Announcements for the Week of June 21-27, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 7/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

Preaching  and Presiding today is

The Rev. Cn. Stefani Schatz

 

The Texts This Week:

RCL: 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16; Psalm 133; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Hymns (1982 Hymnal): 432, 493, 379 and 579.

 

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 her family;  for the souls of Barbara Ekstrom Carlson, cousin of Ellen Ekstrom, and the martyrs of Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, and their families, friends and parishioners.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is GirlsGo, a program for middle school girls, which offers a Saturday program during the school year and a month-long summer program.  The program includes a safe “extended family” group & excursions to broaden horizons. 

TODAY – SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2015:

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all those who nurture, support, teach, and especially love as fathers in our lives!

 

THANKS TO ALL who brought pies and attended the auction and potluck supper last Sunday night, and more importantly, bid on the scrumptious offerings!  The money raised will go into Good Shepherd’s operating budget.

 

TODAY WE WELCOME BACK The Rev. Canon Stefani Schatz as our preacher and presider.

 

THE Sandwich Ministry (Mondays) and Hot Lunch (Fridays) need a few good volunteers.  If you have a morning free, on Monday or Friday, check us out and see if you would enjoy the job.  You can also talk to Teddy Knight at coffee hour to learn about this very important ministry to our West Berkeley neighborhood.

 

Bill Countryman has begun a blog at billcountryman.com and he invites your comments and suggestions.  One aspect of it is a reprise of the material discussed in our monthly Scripture Class. He’s also writing about gardening and other topics.

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Anne Jenson will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from May 22 through July 6.  She may be reached at 510-917-3630.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

THE THIRD QUARTER ROTA is being prepared this week.  Liturgical Ministers, if you haven’t given Ellen your availability to serve, now’s the time.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

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.

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Este or 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.

 

 

Announcements for the Week of June 14-20, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Third Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 6/Year B/Daily Office Year 1

Preaching  today is

The Rev. Dr.  L. Wm. Countryman

Presiding  today is

The Rev. Dr.  Jay Johnson

The Texts This Week:

RCL: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 + Psalm 20 + 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17

+  Mark 4:26-34

Hymns  754 + 302 + 589 + 538

 

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 her family;  for the soul of The Rev. Barbara Hill, wife of The Ven. Kathleen van Sickle and for Barbara and Kathleen’s family.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is GirlsGo, a program for middle school girls, which offers a Saturday program during the school year and a month-long summer program.  The program includes a safe “extended family” group & excursions to broaden horizons. 

TODAY – SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2015:

 

MMMMMMMM……PIE!  THE ANNUAL PIE SUPPER IS TONIGHT!   

COME TO THE PIE SUPPER AND AUCTION! But first. . . MAKE A PIE! Our long tradition here at Good Shepherd is to make the best pie you can possibly come up with, and then decorate the pie box—be creative!  Some people just write the recipe, some draw the ingredients—whatever!

THEN. . .Be there: Sunday June 14, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in the parish hall. Bring your check book, several friends, your family, and a big appetite! Our star auctioneer, Deacon Ellen Ekstrom, will cause you to spend all of your money on pie, as well you should.  We’ve got people coming from out of town for this event, so fire up those ovens and get baking!!!

 

THE Sandwich Ministry (Mondays) and Hot Lunch (Fridays) need a few good volunteers.  If you have a morning free, on Monday or Friday, check us out and see if you would enjoy the job.  You can also talk to Teddy Knight at coffee hour to learn about this very important ministry to our West Berkeley neighborhood.

 

Bill Countryman has begun a blog at billcountryman.com and he invites your comments and suggestions.  One aspect of it is a reprise of the material discussed in our monthly Scripture Class. He’s also writing about gardening and other topics.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

ELLEN will be off duty June 14 (but she’ll be auctioning off pies on the evening of the 14th).   Ellen returns to service on June 21st.

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Anne Jenson will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from May 22 through July 6.  She may be reached at 510-917-3630.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

The Rev. Barbara Hill’s memorial will be at 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.

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Diocesan training for Eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Este or 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.

 

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 June 6-13, 2015

WELCOME!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Second Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 5/Year B/Daily Office Year1

Preaching  and Presiding today is

The Rev. Anne Jenson

The Texts This Week:

RCL: Genesis 3:8-15, Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35

Hymns (from the 1982 Hymnal):  391, 620, 533 & 445

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 her family;  for the souls of The Rev. Barbara Hill, wife of The Ven. Kathleen van Sickle, and Bill Hawes, grandfather of Nick and Carlos R. Fernandez, father in law of The Rev. Ellen L. Ekstrom, and their family.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is GirlsGo, a program for middle school girls, which offers a Saturday program during the school year and a month-long summer program.  The program includes a safe “extended family” group & excursions to broaden horizons. 

TODAY – SUNDAY, JUNE 7, 2015:

 

WELCOME ANNE!  Today we welcome The Rev. Anne Jenson as our preacher and presider.  Please take a moment to say hello to Anne!

 

BIBLE CLASS TODAY AFTER THE SERVICE.  Join The Rev. Bill Countryman in a discussion of the Book of Amos – it’s a short, interesting book.  All are welcome to attend in the Sisson Salon in the Parish Hall.

 

STRAWBERRY CREEK LODGE SERVICE AT 2:00 p.m. TODAY.  The Rev. Teddy Knight and Tom Slocumb will lead an ecumenical service based on the BCP “Communion Under Special Circumstances.”  You are welcome to join them as they bring our eucharist from our table to theirs.

 

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

ELLEN will be off duty June 7 and 14 (but she’ll be auctioning off pies on the evening of the 14th).   The Rev. Frank Sterling will serve on those mornings.  Thanks again, Frank!

 

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Anne Jenson will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from May 22 through July 6.  She may be reached at 510-917-3630.  Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

 

MMMMMMMM……PIE!  THE ANNUAL PIE SUPPER RETURNS TO GOOD SHEPHERD!   

COME TO THE PIE SUPPER AND AUCTION! But first. . . MAKE A PIE! Our long tradition here at Good Shepherd is to make the best pie you can possibly come up with, and then decorate the pie box—be creative!  Some people just write the recipe, some draw the ingredients—whatever!

THEN. . .Be there: Sunday June 14, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in the parish hall. Bring your check book, several friends, your family, and a big appetite! Our star auctioneer, Deacon Ellen Ekstrom, will cause you to spend all of your money on pie, as well you should.  We’ve got people coming from out of town for this event, so fire up those ovens and get baking!!!

 

The Rev. Barbara Hill’s memorial will be at Alban’s Episcopal Church, Albany, California, on August 8th at 11a.m. with 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.

 

EQUIPPING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY – ST. CLEMENT’S, AUGUST 29, 2015: Training for eucharistic visitors/ministers and other ministries.  Please see Este or Ellen if you are interested in attending.

 

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 May 24-30, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015 – The Day of Pentecost

Year B/Daily Office Year1
Preaching and Presiding today is The Rev. Dr. L. Wm. Countryman

The Texts This Week:

RCL: Acts 2:1-21 + Psalm 104: 25-35,37 + Romans 8:22-27 + John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Hymns (from the 1982 Hymnal): 52, 513, 229 and 511

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 her family; for the souls of The Rev. Barbara Hill, wife of The Ven. Kathleen van Sickle, and Bill Hawes, grandfather of Nick and Carlos R. Fernandez and the family.

This quarter’s thank offering recipient is GirlsGo, a program for middle school girls, which offers a Saturday program during the school year and a month-long summer program. The program includes a safe “extended family” group & excursions to broaden horizons.

SAVE THESE DATES: UPCOMING EVENTS

ELLEN will be away June 7 and 14 (but she’ll be auctioning off pies on the evening of the 14th). The Rev. Frank Sterling will serve on those mornings. Thanks again, Frank!

PASTORAL CARE NEEDS: The Rev. Anne Jenson will be available for pastoral care and pastoral emergencies from May 22 through July 6. She may be reached at 510-917-3630. Ellen will as always be available by phone at 510-646-1066 or at goodshepherddeacon@outlook.com during the evenings.

CORO CICONIA AT GOOD SHEPHERD, MAY 24, 2015, 7:00 p.m. in the Church. Asher Davison directs Coro Ciconia in a performance of Machaut’s Messe and Other Glories: Stylistic Threads of Medieval Sacred Music. Join us for a lyrical and energetic voyage back from early Renaissance polyphony of Josquin and Brumel to the striking earliest known setting of the complete Ordinary of the Mass, the “Nostre Dame” of Guillaume Machaut (c. 1300–1377). Along the way, encounter the Alma Redemptoris Mater settings of Ockeghem and Dufay, an ecstatic work by the influential de Vitry, and Mass movements by the underappreciated Zacara and Ciconia. A suggested donation of $20.00 ($10.00 reduced) will be appreciated. For more information call 818-331-7504.

MMMMMMMM……PIE! THE ANNUAL PIE SUPPER RETURNS TO GOOD SHEPHERD!
COME TO THE PIE SUPPER AND AUCTION! But first. . . MAKE A PIE! Our long tradition here at Good Shepherd is to make the best pie you can possibly come up with, and then decorate the pie box—be creative! Some people just write the recipe, some draw the ingredients—whatever!
THEN. . .Be there: Sunday June 14, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in the parish hall. Bring your check book, several friends, your family, and a big appetite! Our star auctioneer, Deacon Ellen Ekstrom, will cause you to spend all of your money on pie, as well you should. We’ve got people coming from out of town for this event, so fire up those ovens and get baking!!!

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.
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The Spirit from Three Angles

Preached from the pulpit of Good Shepherd Church, May 25, 2015 – the Day of Pentecost – by The Rev. Dr. Wm. L. Countryman.

Year B: Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27 & 16:4b-15

Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit. And there may be no subject in the world that’s more difficult to talk about because the Spirit never lets us pin her down—which, of course, is exactly what we want to do. So much of humanity’s religious mindset is really about getting a handle on God, about making sure what God will do, about making sure we’ll be on the right side of whatever God does do. That makes the Spirit really frustrating for us.

So I’m not going to try for a neat package with all the loose ends tied up. I want to take a different approach and say just three things about the Spirit and leave a lot of open space out there in the middle.

The first thing is what Jesus said in his conversation with Nicodemus, the great dignitary and religious teacher who came to visit him secretly at night. The Spirit, Jesus said, is like the wind. It blows where it likes. You hear it, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. But it gives new life, says Jesus; and you, Nicodemus, great man though you are, need new life just like everybody else. (John 3:1-10)
The Psalm we read this morning had something similar to say. The Spirit gives life; but death and life alike are beyond our control:
You hide your face, and [all the creatures of the world] are terrified;
you take away their breath,
and they die and return to their dust.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.
Ps. 104:30-31 (The Saint Helena Psalter)
The Spirit comes and goes, always beyond our control, always changing the face of our world, and somehow, though not in a simple, predictable way, bringing life.
God is a great mystery. Of course, God is a great mystery. Human life, after all, is a great mystery. The world is a great mystery. A God who is not mysterious couldn’t have produced this extraordinary world or the extraordinary beings that live in it. And despite the mythology of endless growth that has held sway for the last couple of centuries, human beings, for all our power, are not in control of the world or of God. Our present drought is a sharp reminder of our limits.
The Holy Spirit, then, is fundamentally beyond our grasp: beyond our understanding and and our control. That’s the first thing.

But that’s not enough. By itself, it might leave us feeling that the Spirit is not only beyond our grasp, but largely indifferent to us. Yes, she brings life to the world, but to you? to me? Maybe not so much.
So the second thing I particularly want to say about the Spirit this morning is that she is always deeply engaged with us and our lives. We heard these words of Paul from his Letter to the Romans, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom. 8:22-27)
We don’t understand the Spirit, but the Spirit understands us—and that at the very deepest level, much deeper than we understand ourselves. She intercedes within us “with sighs to deep for words,” praying for gifts that we couldn’t pray for because we don’t even understand our need for them. Our vision of our own lives isn’t yet wide enough or wise enough for that kind of prayer. But the Spirit understands us and stands by us in the lifelong task of drawing us into new and larger life. The Spirit is there, working to foster in us the power to trust and hope and love, for without these no one comes to human maturity.
Mysterious and ungraspable as the Spirit is, her aim is always that we grow and flourish and blossom. Strange as her ways often seem, her great purpose is always and only love.

We’ve said that the Spirit is beyond our grasp and yet that the Spirit aims at life for us. And the third thing I want to say about the Spirit this morning—and three things, I think, will be quite enough—is that the Spirit gives gifts. We heard the story from Acts about the first disciples on the Feast of Pentecost. They began their morning full of fear and with no real sense of a future. And what human being has not been in that spot at some time or other? But they finished the morning discovering new and wonderful gifts.
They discovered a gift of speech—to speak about their lives and the part God played in them. They discovered the courage to talk to the great world. (The Spirit, to be sure gave them a big boot in the rear on that one: she created such a commotion that they couldn’t really avoid it.) And, wonder of wonders, they found that Spirit had also given to the throng of people around them, some of them very different from themselves, the gift of being able to hear and understand what they said.
Now the Spirit, of course, doesn’t always do the big show when she distributes gifts. That would be a little too predictable, wouldn’t it? And we already know the Spirit isn’t going to be predictable because that would mean we could grab hold of her and organize her and run the show ourselves. Berkeley in the twenty-first century is probably not much easier a place to talk about Jesus than was Jerusalem two months after the crucifixion. And we haven’t exactly been seeing the big crowds. But the Spirit draws people to this little gathering of disciples one here, one there. And then the Spirit gives to each one of us gifts to share, gifts that enrich the life and understanding of the whole ongoing community—the people who are here now, the people who will yet come.
What gifts? Look around you and you’ll be reminded of some that your neighbors are sharing. Look within and you’ll be reminded of some that you have been given to share. No community of faithful people can survive without the gifts that the Spirit has given us to share with one another.

Three things, then, about the Spirit: she is ungraspable, she brings life, she brings gifts for us to share. Not a very detailed portrait, is it? No. But a detailed portrait would run the risk of being a lie, for it would seem to grasp her too completely. Only in the sharing of her gifts do we grow in the life of grace; and as we grow in the life of grace, we begin truly to understand something of the mystery of God.
Yes, Jesus taught us much. But how do we learn what we have been taught? It isn’t just a matter of learning words. Sometimes words become instruments of death rather than life; they succumb to our passion for certainty, for pinning God down, for knowing more than we can know. True understanding comes with the living of a life, not just the repeating of words. Jesus himself said, in this morning’s gospel reading that we would have to be guided into all truth by the Spirit of truth.
The Holy Spirit will lead us if we give her half a chance—that wind that blows where it likes, that inner companion who prays in us when we ourselves don’t know how to pray, that giver of gifts for us to share with one another. She is, strange to tell, active in us and among us even when we are least aware of it. Active right now. Active tomorrow and the day after, yesterday and the day before. You won’t get a grip on her. But she has a pretty good idea of you and me. And she still has some devices up her sleeve for dealing with stubborn people like us.

There will be further surprises.

Hear Our Prayer, Oh Lord…

Preached by The Rev. Ellen L. Ekstrom from Good Shepherd’s pulpit on Sunday, May 17, 2015:

 

I take as my texts this morning the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John.

Our scripture this morning speaks to current events and leads us to ministry in Christ’s name. ‘The High Priestly Prayer’ of Jesus and the lesson from the Acts of the Apostles – the calling of Matthias – hit home for me in light of recent events. We are desperately in need of an advocate now and now, as we end the fifty great days of Easter, like the apostles who realized scripture was fulfilled and got down to business, we need to get down to business.
Understand that the world Jesus prays for is not a material world of buildings, business and tech toys, corporations, but living, breathing, people who live in that world. The Children of God. Unfortunately, we children make many wrong turns and missteps and we need prayers. We need God’s love to open our eyes to what eternal life really is. It is not the superhuman ability of a Superman or Supergirl, nor is it to live a century or more or float about in a utopian, fantasy-like heaven, but a life God gives us to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is here and now.

It is an eternal life of love, justice and equality, of no barriers due to gender or ability, where housing and food are not luxuries. We don’t murder to prevent murder.

The news that came out of Massachusetts on Friday stunned many.
A federal jury’s verdict of death for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon Bomber, was not expected by many in the legal community, nor by citizens of Boston and the Commonwealth.

Sixty percent of Americans polled wanted him executed, but that percentage does not reflect Massachusetts.  It does not reflect the opinion of many.
Massachusetts does not have the death penalty; it was abolished for state cimes in 1984 and has not carried out an execution since 1947, but the case brought against Tsarnaev was in the federal court where there is no restriction against a death sentence. The jury was “death qualified” — each juror had to be open to the death penalty; anyone who opposed it could not serve.

I could not have served.  I would not have served.  What good is murdering one individual for the loss of another?  The actions do not really bring closure.  The dead are not brought back like Lazarus.  The family of the little Richards boy asked that the death penalty not be considered.
When the verdict was pronounced, it is said that jurors wept. From what I understand, there was no triumphant outburst in the courtroom. It was a solemn moment.
Was justice served? That would depend on who you ask. In our post 9-11 world, we’ve been conditioned by the media to know and recognize who our enemies are.  I’m sure we all have our own opinions on the matter.

I posit this: was God served?
I know my stance is unpopular where it concerns this case and others like it, but murder as punishment for murder isn’t a deterrent. We’ve seen that. Some will argue that Jesus said an ‘eye for an eye’ but he was qualifying the law of retaliation set forth in the book of Exdous by advocating a return of good for evil.
Where am I going with this? What does this have to do with Jesus’ high priestly prayer and the calling of Matthias?
Jesus prayed to God to watch over his apostles and disciples. They are us. He prayed for our unity, for our joy, and our safety and protection. Those prayers were at work when, after the realization set in of scripture being fulfilled, Peter called the apostles to select one among their following to replace Judas Iscariot. They got down to the business at hand for them, which was keeping Christ’s word and deeds alive and expanding the community, by living as He desired, to be in the material world, but not of the world. This choice made enemies and made them hated, which became distinguishing and real marks of all who followed Jesus. They stood out because they didn’t fit in.

You and I here today stand out because we do not fit in to our society as it is.
It’s no easy life being a Christian today. We have it easier in terms of our economy, standard of living and basic freedoms, but honestly, tell someone today that you are a Christian and attend regular worship services in a traditional faith community and may get a look, or the question, “Why?”

It will be assumed that you are a robot following a party line, you are mindless sheep in a mindless flock – not this one, mind you, we’re not mindless.  It will be thought that you probably believe in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy like this unseen, unheard mystical being in the clouds and its human son who took the worst of punishments for what – so people can go on sinning and making bad judgment calls? Just last week the Pew Center released statistics that say we are an endangered species.
Let’s prove them wrong. Let’s make decisions and take action that will truly reflect our diversity and our committment to the beloved community that Josiah Royce devised and Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed and show and live our passion for equality, peace and justice, and stop with the business as usual. Let us show that material world we are not politicians with ideas about what Jesus said and did that fit into a narrow little space convenient for a few and detrimental to most. We know what God and Jesus want us to do – we know what is required of us.
Let’s begin by changing the criminal justice system in at all levels, state, federal and appellate. The punishment for possession of narcotics or stealing a Honda shouldn’t be as severe as using deadly force and murder. And as for those who do commit murder, perhaps life imprisonment in a bare cell with only the basic necessities of food, water, clothing and a bed would be help them repent of their grevious sin.
Let’s do something revolutionary like taking care of our children, feeding them, nurturing them, making the streets safe for them, listening to them and comforting them so that they don’t become lost, angry, youth. And the same goes for our immigrant neighbors, our homeless brothers and sisters, our sick and poor. They are part of the world for which Jesus prays and they, like you and I, are called to lead.
Just as Christ prayed for us, now we must pray for the world and may those prayers be answered.

The Difficult Art of Paying Attention

 

We hear the story of Jesus’ transfiguration every year on this Last Sunday after Epiphany, the Sunday just before Lent begins. It makes sense. This is an epiphany par excellence, isn’t it? Brilliant light, Jesus seen as they had never seen him before, the two great spiritual leaders of ancient Israel alongside him, the voice from heaven. . . What more could we ask? Might as well get on with Lent, right?
But, you know, there’s something really odd about this story. And that’s Peter’s effort to be useful. It’s just not done. People don’t interrupt epiphanies to announce that they’re just there to help out and they’ll be glad to take care of some of the little oversights in God’s production process. Mark—it’s Mark’s version of the story that we’re reading this year—actually feels the need to apologize for Peter: “He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” I don’t suppose it ever occurred to him that he could keep his mouth shut.

Our first reading, about Elijah and Elisha, does the thing better. True, Elisha has his own way of inserting himself into the process. He refuses to be put off. He dogs Elijah’s every step. He knows something important is coming. (After all, he’s a prophet in his own right.) He even makes a big request for himself (though only after he’s been invited to): “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” Elijah replies that that’s going to be very difficult, but it’s just possible provided he pays very close attention.
Well, yes. That’s what epiphanies are about, isn’t it? God is trying to show us something of profound importance, something that very probably can’t be put into words. God isn’t offering us some propositions or some ethical directives or some new creed, but giving us a new glimpse of our world, our reality, including God’s own self—a glimpse that can renew or transform our whole sense of the world and of who we are in it.
Elisha got it right. All he could do—all anyone can do when God stops us short in this way—is pay attention. “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen.” He saw the power and glory of God in a new way. And he payed attention.

Now, not every epiphany is a shocker like Elisha’s experience. In our psalm today, we did speak of that kind:
O God, you will come and will not keep silence;
before you there is a consuming flame,
and round about you a raging storm.
But we also spoke of a quieter kind of epiphany that is equally compelling, equally fraught with challenge to our whole conception of ourselves and our world:
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,
God is revealed in glory.

Whichever kind of epiphany we may experience, our job, so to speak, is the same: pay attention. An epiphany is something that will make our life new. It’s a gift to us.
You can see where Peter went wrong—as Peter so often does. That’s why Peter is so important to us in the Gospel stories. Like us, he keeps getting it wrong. He was so entrenched in his self-understanding as Jesus’ lieutenant—the person who was active and responsible and did things—that he was closed to any other prospect. But, right at that moment, God didn’t want him to do anything at all except pay attention.
Mark says he was terrified. But of what was he terrified? This epiphany isn’t described as being scary. Overwhelming, maybe. But not scary. There was nothing like the fiery chariot that came to collect Elijah. It was, relatively speaking, almost quiet—luminous, but quiet. What was scary, I suppose, was that there was no place in it for the Peter he had become, the busy adjutant, the very essential chargè d’affaires. The scary thing was that, in this context, God was only trying to give him something. God didn’t need anything from him at all.

God didn’t need anything from him at all.

Now, this is not the same as saying that God doesn’t care what we do. This is not making light of human action. After all, to a great extent our actions reveal who we really are. Of course, we need to take that seriously. But there’s a danger for religious people—people like Peter, people like us—that we will assume that our own actions are the central thing. It can be upsetting to hear that they’re not. Isn’t religion about being good? being ethical? being moral? being faithful? Well, I’m in favor of every one of those things, but no.
To put the matter in other terms (and use a phrase that we’ve probably all heard at one time or another and probably nodded our heads sagely): There is a God, and it’s not you. It’s not me. It’s not any of us. It wasn’t Peter, either.
Religion turns so easily into a list of things to believe and things to do. We see it all the time. It happens in every brand of religion. The only difference is in the specific lists. Neo-Evangelicals have their lists, liberal Protestants have theirs. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco actually published his recently. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to be quite the same as Pope Francis’s. And so it goes.
The point is not that having lists is bad (though they are always imperfect). We may well need the little memo of reminder from time to time. What’s wrong is when the lists become more important than God. When duty threatens to outrank the Creator. When we’re so busy with our good deeds that we can’t pause to listen to a love song from the God who made us.

This whole subject is particularly apropos at this precise moment in the liturgical year. Carnival is building up to its Mardi gras climax in places like New Orleans—a period of intense busyness designed above all as distraction. And then comes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. And Lent, so often, is every bit as much a distraction as Carnival. We are apt to focus on self-examination, self-improvement, the doing of good works: all excellent stuff and I recommend it. But try to avoid letting it come between you and God—this God who is even willing to offer the very best of epiphanies to people like Peter and people like us, running the risk that we may respond that “Sorry, I’m very busy, right now, being religious.”
What God seems particularly to hope is that we will take the time to be open to God’s beauty and generosity and love. And if we can do that, I suspect we won’t have to look around for a project, like Peter. We’ll just kind of know, like Elisha, what to do next.

Knowing and Being Known

Preached from the Pulpit of Good Shepherd Church by The Rev. L. Wm. Countryman on Sunday, January 18, 2015:

O God, you have searched me out and known me. . .
(trans: The St. Helena Psalter)

There is a persistent sense of God in human beings. Some people keep expecting it to go away in the modern world, but it never has. As you’ve probably heard, the number of people in the US who profess no particular religious connection has increased substantially in the last decade or two. But that doesn’t seem to mean that they have lost their sense of the divine. It just means rather that they’ve given up on organized religion. They’ve experienced some of the bad side of it over the last few decades and not enough of its good, and they’re uneasy with it.
But the Holy doesn’t go away. God doesn’t go away. People still find themselves encountered by the divine in all sorts of ways. For us, that includes this church building, shaped (and now reshaped) by human hands to convey something of the beauty of holiness. And it includes this service of Holy Eucharist, where, Sunday by Sunday, we find ours places once again in the story of God’s great love for humankind and go forth renewed for our daily lives.

And in all of Scripture there may be no better expression of this meeting with God than the Psalm from which we read this morning: “O God, you have searched me out and known me.” We’re not talking about a catalogue of facts and figures: Me—height 5’6″, weight 154 lb., hair gray, eyes blue; God—incalculable, infinite, maybe sort of rainbow-colored or maybe, as Henry Vaughan put it, “a dazzling darkness.” No, this is something harder to explain and describe. Our encounters with God are moments of openness, moments in which we are simply together with God without the usual barriers of thought and calculation, without the distractions of our desires and our fears—moments of simplicity and wonder.

Such moments have no easy explanation, nor are they predictable,. We can’t really analyze them, nor can we reproduce them at will. As the Psalmist says:
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Indeed, that is part of the power of such moments: they catch us up into them, and have the quality of being more real, more important than the minutiae of our everyday world They even have the power to reframe and reinterpret our world. Things that were important to us before recede, things we had overlooked move to center stage. We hear people who have had a close brush with death speak of a kind of simplification of their worldview afterward; they find it easier to sort out what is truly important to them. Our experience of God is much the same. We emerge from it changed—not always in ways that are easy to specify or quantify, but changed nonetheless.

We heard two stories of such experience in our readings this morning. One is the story of the young Samuel, whom God encountered as a voice in the middle of the night, where he was bedded down to sleep in the Temple at Shiloh. He had no notion what was happening to him, and he was fortunate indeed to have a mentor like Eli to guide him. For it seems to have been an era like our own when God’s presence was not always much acknowledged.

And Samuel’s encounter with God worked a very big change on him. God opened Samuel’s eyes to the evil done by Eli’s sons, who were running the temple for their own advantage and abusing the worshippers. God opened Samuel’s eyes to see that this could not continue. As we are beginning to see in our own time, when religion begins to serve the interests of its own power, it may flourish for a while, but it will eventually bring down disrepute on itself.
Samuel saw this. But he was new to the burden of prophetic knowledge and it’s hard to know whether he would ever have had the courage to tell all this if Eli—wise old priest of God that he was—had not forced him to speak the truth. And Eli, who also knew God, accepted the justice of the charge against his sons.

This is one of the things that can happen when people encounter God. Some become prophets, the sort of people who tell the truths that the rest of us are doing their best to ignore or perhaps cannot even imagine. True prophets, I suppose, are always a rare breed, and they’re apt to have difficult lives. They tend to swim against the current. To the self-confident, they promise disaster. To the despairing, they offer hope. And, either way, like their famous Greek counterpart, Cassandra, they tend to get ignored.

Our other story this morning is a bit different. Jesus, as you remember, made a huge impression on Nathanael by his display of second sight, telling him “I saw you sitting under the fig tree before Philip called you.” In an instant, Nathanael recognized himself as known. As the Psalmist had said, “you know my sitting down and my rising up.” And, of course, part of what Nathanael knew was that Jesus had also heard his snide comment about Nazareth. I suppose Jesus was teasing him about it when he called him a person without guile—just the kind of person who would say exactly what popped into his mind.

But even though there was a certain teasing lightness in Jesus’ greeting, Nathanael knew that something much bigger was going on here, that Jesus knew him in the way that God knows us. He saluted Jesus with the highest titles he could use: Son of God, King of Israel.

But Jesus doesn’t seem to turn Nathanael into a prophet. He offers him something different—something, in fact, that God offers everyone that God encounters. Jesus offers him a life in ever-deepening communion with God. “Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these. . . . You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Jesus is using here the image of Jacob’s ladder—Jacob’s vision at Bethel, where he saw the angels going to and fro between God and the world by way of a cosmic stairway. Jesus is promising Nathanael that, through his association with Jesus, he will have a life of continual deepening of vision and understanding in the presence of God.

Not all of us are called to be prophets. But all of us are invited to this life of intimacy with God, of being known by God and coming to know God more and more deeply. That will also mean, of course, a deepening understanding of our world and of who we are becoming in it. To see the opening between heaven and earth, the angels ascending and descending, means to see everything in a new way. We are being invited to become new people in communion with our creator, the one who knows us so intimately and loves us so deeply.
“O God, you have searched me out and known me, . . . ” we repeat. Yes.
And “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.”

Yes, that too.

But God continues to draw us graciously into this intimate embrace of love until we shall eventually, as Paul once wrote, “know fully even as we are fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12) And there is no greater gift that God can bestow or we can receive.

Announcements for Christmas 1: Sunday Dec 28th, 2014

WELCOME! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

 1 Christmas

Year B, Daily Office Year 1

Presiding and Preaching today is

The Rev. Dr. L. Wm. Countryman

 

The Texts This Week:

 

Isaiah 61:10-62:3  •  Psalm 148  • Galatians 4:4-7  •  Luke 2:22-40

 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2014:

 

Please pray for: Susan Bergmans, Cynthia Morse, and The family of Andrea Thompson

 

WE ARE COLLECTING WARM JACKETS, COATS AND SWEATERS AND WATERPROOF CLOTHING for our day laborer brothers.  If you have a donation, please bring them to church today.

 

OUR VICAR, ESTE, is on vacation from December 25 through January 3rd.  She will be happy to take pastoral calls during this time.

 

OUR DEACON, ELLEN, is taking her mandatory ‘fourth Sunday off’ today and will return on January 3rd.

 

THANKS TO BILL COUNTRYMAN AND JAY JOHNSON for serving this morning!

 

 

FUTURE EVENTS AND NOTICES OF INTEREST – SAVE THESE DATES:

 

Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.:  BISHOP’S VISITATION AND RECONSECRATION OF THE CHURCH and BLESSING OF MINISTRY TO THE DAY LABORERS/MULTICULTURAL INSTITUTE.  We will have a festive coffee hour after the service and you are invited to bring a festive, tasty, dish to share.

 

Sunday, January 25, 2015 after Coffee Hour:   GOOD SHEPHERD ANNUAL MEETING in the Parish Hall. 

 

If you are visiting us today, and wish to learn more about Good Shepherd and our ministries and worship, please fill out a blue interest card and give it to our Greeter, the Vicar, or Deacon.