“If you build it, he will come”. In this case, the reference is to the building of a beautiful baseball field in the middle of a Minnesota cornfield in the hopes of attracting a dead mythical baseball star, Shoeless Joe Jackson. In the movie, “The Field of Dreams”, Kevin Costner’s character did build the field and as is the case in many Hollywood fantasies, Shoeless Joe and his teammates did indeed show up.
Our version of that tale is the purchase this week by KCC of a well-cared-for Yamaha baby grand piano in excellent condition. We have been on the lookout for such an opportunity since Karen Haslag’s arrival and yesterday jumped at the chance when the piano came on the market. As you will recall, our old piano was truly on its last legs and literally held together in one spot with a judicious wad of cardboard. Karen and Penny have been ambassadors of grace and goodwill in putting up with it.
We initiated a piano fund campaign about a year ago and have received about $2100 from several families so far. We decided to defer further fund-raising until our new Music Director arrived and could lead the search for the new piano. That she has done and now it is our turn to “show up”. We will be renewing our piano fund campaign in April in anticipation of a debut in time for Mothers’ Day.
In other news, please remember to save the date of Friday, April 22, at 10:00 AM for our book discussion in Fellowship Hall on Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. If you have not already done so, the book can be purchased on Amazon or borrowed from the library. Our discussion is open to the public, so please invite one or more friends if you would like to do so.
Dear KCC Members and Friends,
What a beautiful Easter service we had! Our guest soprano, Melinda Moreaux, was superb and the service and music were lovely. The church was filled and Easter lilies graced the altar. Our own Earla continues to surprise and delight us with beautiful decorations in the Fellowship Hall and Sunday was no exception.
As beautiful as our Easter service was, it's important to note the exceptional service on Maundy Thursday. If you missed it, mark Maundy Thursday on your calendar for next year. Several attendees commented that this was the most moving service of the year for them. The overall simplicity of the service, the seating at the table for Communion, the stripping of the altar, all combined for a powerful experience. Afterwards, we shared a simple soup supper in the Fellowship Hall, further enhancing the evening.
Our church is small, but we share so much. Celebration, solemnity, and a deep caring for one another. This is who we are -- Kenwood Community Church -- and aren't we glad to be here?
Dear Members and Friends,
The third round of Bible Study begins next Monday morning. I am thankful for those who have signed up to attend. There is room for more.
Reading or studying the Bible can be daunting, with all the footnotes, obscure history and references to people, times, places and issues beyond comprehension. It's not an easy book to read. One of goals of these Bible Classes is to take the anxiety out of reading it.
It is difficult to do anything -- ride a bike, cook dinner, give a talk -- if anxiety is out of control. To enjoy most anything, it helps if we 'chill out.'
I hope our classes do not make people feel even more uncomfortable reading the Bible; I hope just the opposite. We discover, among other things, that the Bible tells stories, sets down history, offers prayers and poetry, that in some strange way are precisely about us. It took 2000 years for the Bible to be written, by hundreds of people with vastly different perspectives and issues. But for all the parts difficult to understand, the vast majority of the stories are about us. As part of the human family, even our ancestors from 4000 years ago, we connect. As old as they are, we can understand them easily; they hit home, ring a bell, connect with us.
May we read the Bible with calm and joy. It is, in part, the stories of our lives, today.
Bless you all.
Dear Members and Friends,
I suggest we not hurry along, pushed to move quickly. Easter will wait, as it did the first time 2000 years ago. Between today and Easter Sunday, there are mountains to climb, valleys to be visited, last suppers to be held, betrayals, and a death.
The church will probably be full on Easter, but the numbers will be thin Thursday evening. Once that discouraged and irritated me, confirming my prejudice toward people who were keen on the baby Jesus and the resurrected Christ, but frankly not very interested in anything in between. Or, not interested in the heart and core of the Christian faith, but just the two lovely bookends.
I was taught that a negative attitude about people who are Christmas and Easter Christians was not appropriate; easily picked up by those who come only for those two services. Negative vibes from the Pastor toward these big crowds of twice-yearly attendees could not be hidden, and, not healthy for the soul of the Pastor.
I can understand why Christmas Eve services are packed. The whole season of gifts and Santa and music rightly includes going to church on December 24 to sing carols and hear once again the story we all know by heart. It's a tradition.
But Easter is different. The very heart and soul of the Christian message together with the blueprint of Christian values, is summed up in Lent and Holy Week. Skipping over everything before Easter Sunday -- Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday -- is like showing up late for a great banquet, just in time for dessert. It's like taking your seat at a movie for the ending credits and mistaking taking those for the film itself.
Oh well. It may be that way in other parts of our life as well. In your vineyard, you work all year to cultivate the vines, prune them, nurture and protect them, talk to them and, every year, worry if you will have a crop worth selling. You know the whole story behind every harvest. But it's easy for me. I just buy a bottle of your wine and delight in it. I just show up for the ending of a long and arduous process. Work in the vineyard is our life. Easter is popping the cork. Let us be mindful of what went into it.
A blessed Thursday, Friday and Saturday to you all.
For a small church, we sure do a lot! In addition to the special services and fellowship of Holy Week, we have a rekindled choir, a robust Bible Study group, a report from our Cuban contingent, multiple community group meetings, and the first program in a series open to the community on living lives of meaning, grace, and dignity as we grow older together.
Beginning on Friday morning April 22nd at 10:00 AM in Fellowship Hall, we will be leading a book discussion on Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Please buy the book if you have not done so already, read it over the next month, and come prepared to share your own ideas, experiences, and intent. It should be a great kick-off to some profound conversations and heightened mutual support.
Dear KCC Members and Friends,
Our church service was beautiful last Sunday! Bible reading services are always special, both for their meaningful words and for the added participation of church members. The choir sang, we were given special crosses made of palm, and we used the new hymnals for the first time.
We have lots to look forward to this week, too. Our Maundy Thursday service is tomorrow at 5 p.m. Communion at the service will be served in a different way. We will be seated at a table in groups of eight so that we can experience more closely what it would have been like to be at the last supper.
Following the service, we will have a simple soup supper, provided by the Board of Deacons. Over the last couple of years, this addition on Maundy Thursday service has become an important tradition -- a chance to share fellowship following this deeply meaningful service.
Sunday, of course, is Easter Sunday and we will celebrate with a traditional service. We'll be treated to wonderful organ music and the talents of our guest soprano soloist Melinda Moreaux. Come sing 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today!' and share the glories of the morning and the fellowship afterward. Ladies, will any of you be wearing Easter bonnets?
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On Wednesday, March 16th Women of the World (WOW) met at KCC for a baked potato bar and a lovely fashion show.
Maggie Martin hosted this lovely event and she invited the Assistance League of Santa Rosa to come and do a fashion show. They dressed in spring fashions from their thrift shop in Santa Rosa. All items were available for purchase and we were told that the event made $200 for the charity. All monies support worthwhile projects right here in Santa Rosa.
Thanks to Maggie and the Assistance League for a fun afternoon.
~Peggy Ensley and Dorothy Green for WOW
Dear Members and Friends,
This Sunday is called Palm Sunday, or, Passion Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week. Christians began Holy Week celebrations 1700 years ago. This is not a new idea.
This Sunday we will hear the long reading of the entire Passion Story, from the Gospel of Mark. We will begin with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, then Jesus in the Upper Room, Jesus praying in the garden, appearing before the high priest, Peter's denial, and end with Jesus before Pilate.
You will be relieved to know there is no sermon on Passion Sunday, only the reading of the whole story at one sitting. All year long we hear little snippets of this or that; the Bible story all scissored into little bits.
My grandchildren will not allow me to skip a page in one of their books, even if I'm the one - not them-falling asleep on the sofa. "Grandpa, you skipped a page!" Caught again.
Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday is when we sit and listen to the whole story; the heart of the Gospels. No pages skipped. It's a relief to hear it from the person who wrote the Gospel without feeble commentary from the preacher.
Every sentence is familiar; every paragraph included. Sometimes it is best just to listen with no commentary to muddle it up. That's this Sunday.
Bless you all,
Didn't we just have a wonderful time last Sunday? Many, many thanks to Dale and Sue McCoy and their 'McHelpers' for a truly delicious lunch and a great time. The Fellowship Hall was filled with St. Patrick's Day celebrants enjoying the afternoon. This is a day we'll remember for a long time to come!
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I no longer call myself an 'Evangelical' and that makes me sad. I know what the word means in the New Testament and in Church history, and I have been proud and grateful for the word and all it meant. I was raised and ordained in a denomination which called itself 'Evangelical'.
What it used to mean is simply this: Evangelicals are 'Good Newsers' -- they are people centered in the Gospel, witnesses of the Good News of God's gift of grace to us in the life, work, death and resurrection of Jesus. Evangelicals were people who felt joyfully compelled to share the Gospel with all the world. Evangelicals were Christians whose mission in life was to proclaim and live the Gospel in all its fullness, both within their own clan and with cultures around the world.
But that understanding is nearly gone. Only a remnant of it remains. The word has become political short-hand. News commentators and pollsters now use the word to describe a political viewpoint, not an expression of faith. The word has been part of the Church for hundreds of years, and proudly so. It had rich and deep meaning; it expressed loving conviction in the power of God's grace, the importance of Scripture and an openness to all people in the world. Evangelical was not an American political term, it was the Good News that, in Christ, all people of whatever political party, living in countries far and wide, are invited to celebrate the Christian life.
Now, the word has lost its joyful spiritual meaning and has become political shorthand for a particular political persuasion. The word evangelical, once a Church word, is now a political term. The historical and rich meaning it once had has now been reduced to a political label. A beautiful, Biblical, powerful word has been co-opted. This is why I'm sad about it. We will find new Christian words which fully express the ancient beauty of this term, but it will take us a few decades to come up with it. In the meantime, I can only bid it a sad farewell.