Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dear Friends,
Happy Thanksgiving!   This newsletter will reach you earlier than usual as our Tablet “elves” have been given the day before the holiday off--thanks to Talia Terhune, Marcia Ruhl, Darliss Eitel and Carol Reeder for their help sending out the Tablet each month.  We appreciate your faithfulness and are grateful for each of you!

The turkey and pie leftovers will still be in the refrigerator on Sunday the 29th , when we at church will turn our eyes and hearts to the Advent Wreath and begin a new season.  And so Advent and a new church year begins!  Our Collect for the first Sunday of  Advent reads:

                Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in                                                 which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that  the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty                 
                to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
                now and for ever. Amen.                                                                                                                                                                         Book of Common Prayer p. 211

In his book, Listening To Your Life, Frederick Buechner writes that “all of the   paradoxical themes of Advent are compressed into that handful of words...They all but deafen us with their message at one and the same time of sin and grace, justice and mercy, comfort and challenge”.  They also bring to light the paradox of who we are as human beings and where we are—somewhere between the darkness and the light.  He goes on to say “that is where we are as Christians, not just at Advent time, but at all times.  Somewhere between the fact of darkness and the hope of light.  That is who we are”
I must agree.  We live at times in the light and also at times in the darkness.  Advent comes at a time when our natural world is giving way to the darkness and our lives  begin to close down a bit.  It is a time to take a breath and perhaps sit for a moment, allowing that darkness to bring us some peace and stillness.  Try it for a moment in the early morning or evening.  The Christmas mania that is already upon us can easily take over if we don’t take a few moments to quiet our hearts and prepare for the coming of the light;  Jesus, the light of the world, the infant who comes to save us, but also the Christ, who will come to each of us on our last day.   We are called to make space for him, here and now, preparing our hearts to  receive the light of Christ.

I must admit that I got caught up in the whole Facebook argument about Starbucks  coffee cups and the “War on Christmas”!  So silly….the culture that believes Christmas is about decorations in the town square and reindeer and wreathes on coffee cups is what is undermining Christmas.             We don’t need all that to prepare for the coming of Christ.  In fact, it often draws us away from taking the quiet moments that we need in order to prepare for this event.  So please, tone down the Christmas music in the mall, take Santa off our coffee cups and don’t decorate your stores the day after Halloween!  THAT might actually enhance Christmas, not destroy it.  We “Keep Christ in Christmas” by observing the season of Advent, caring for the poor and homeless and giving gifts where they are most needed.

As we move from darkness to light, I pray that we may all keep our focus on sharing the love of God with our families, friends and neighbors, for that is the true meaning of Christmas and the way we most honor God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

Advent Blessings,  Karin+

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dear Friends,

“Do not neglect to do good and share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”
Hebrews 13:16

It’s Stewardship time! Hmm…if you are new to St. David’s, or the Episcopal Church, or
the church in general, you may not have any idea what that means. Hopefully by now
you have received a letter from me asking you to consider your yearly financial “pledge”
or “intention” to our church for 2016. I thought I might tell you a bit more about the
theology of stewardship here.

Stewardship can be defined as “caring for what God provides in a way that is pleasing
to Him”. God, out of an abundance of love and care, provides all we need to thrive and
grow as humans and as disciples. We are asked to give back to God for the care of the
church and of our world. We do this in three ways, through gifts of time, talent and
resources. Throughout the year our parishioners are very generous with their time and
talent, thanks be to God! But in the fall, we make a particular plea for your prayerful
consideration of financial resources.

The Biblical standard of giving is a “tithe”; 10% of what we are given is to be returned to
God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this is referred to many times (Leviticus 27:30;
Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). Nowhere in the New
Testament is a percentage given, but Paul writes that giving should be commensurate
with income (1 Corinthians 16:2). This is a spiritual matter, a matter that is best
considered prayerfully with gratitude for God’s abundant love. The tithe is a standard
that we all are asked to work towards. Over time, my family has been able to get there,
and I must say that we find it freeing. It reminds us that we are not dependent on our
bank account, that, in fact, we are entirely dependent on God’s Grace, which is always
sufficient. I hope that you will take seriously the spiritual benefits of working towards the
biblical standard of tithing.

Here at St. David’s we don’t publish a church budget and then ask you to support it.
Instead, we ask for you to look at your own personal budget and decide what
percentage of your net income you will give back to God. This is between you and
God—no one else has any say. When we receive your intention for giving for the
coming year, we know what we have to work with, and your vestry can begin to build a
budget that supports God’s mission here at St. David’s. It’s up to each of you what that
budget will look like in 2016.

As always, I am grateful to each of you for all you are and all you joyfully share with our
church. It is an incredible privilege to be here with you as partners in God’s mission for
our church.

Blessings, Karin+