Trusty Thomas

Second Sunday of Easter, 11 April 2021, St. David’s Episcopal Church, DeWitt, NY

Dan Handschy

Easter 2B (RCL); Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1 – 2:2; John 20:19-31.

     This Sunday is sometimes called Thomas Sunday.  When we hear this passage, we tend to focus on Thomas, and his interaction with Jesus.  But there is a lot more going on here than just Thomas’ refusal to belief and then his confession of Jesus as Lord and God.

     The collect hinted at some of what else is going on, by stating that in the Paschal mystery, God has established a new covenant of reconciliation.  Jesus’ death and resurrection allow us to live a new kind of life in community, a life of forgiveness and reconciliation.

     Way back at the beginning of the Gospel, John the Baptist testifies to Jesus.  One day, Jesus is walking by, and John calls out, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  I’ve said before that in the Old Testament, there is no lamb that takes away sin; it’s only the goat on the Great Day of Atonement.  But John’s Gospel has Jesus die at the exact hour that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple courts.  Jesus is the lamb of God, but what about taking away sin?

     All through the Gospel, the author has raised the question of sin:  with the blind man, who sinned, this man, or his parents?  With the Pharisees – since they have heard Jesus’ message, but refused to believe, their sin remains.  All too often, John casts the Jews as the sinners.  For John, sin has to do with one’s relationship with God.  Sin is not some moral act or failing, but an inability or refusal to apprehend God’s self-revelation in Jesus.

     But the Gospel never gets around to telling us, the reader, how sin is taken away.  Until now.  Jesus shows up to the disciples cowering in fear, and says, “Peace be with you.”  Notice, Jesus says that three times in this passage.  It must mean the disciples needed to hear it:  Peace be with you.  They would need to hear it if there were conflicts among them, so I think we can assume this is so.  When has it ever not been true of the Church?  Always, we need to hear, “Peace be with you.”

     And then, he showed them his hands and his side.  He showed them his wounds.  No one would expect a resurrected body to have wounds, but there they are.  And then he says, “As the father has sent me, so I send you.”  We, the Church, are to become to the world what Jesus was to the world, the medium of God’s self-revelation.  And then, he breathes on them.  The word in Greek is unusual; we might translate it, “he inflated them.”  It is exactly the same word as for what God did when he blew the breath of life into the nostrils of the first human in the Garden of Eden.

     This is a new creation, a new humanity, empowered with a new Spirit.  And here is the distinctive characteristic of this new humanity:  the sins of whoever you forgive are forgiven them; the sins of whoever you retain are retained for them.  Nowhere in John’s Gospel do we hear of Jesus forgiving anyone’s sins.  In the other Gospels, there is the story of the lame man, to whom Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” and then “take up your pallet and walk.”  But not in John’s Gospel.

     So, we are the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  We become in the world what Jesus was – the locus and mode of God’s self-revelation.  We can bring people into relationship with God – or not.  This is pretty heady stuff.  We can remake the world by forgiving sins; or we can hold on to grudges and keep things the way we are.

     No wonder the disciples rejoiced when they saw Jesus!  But Thomas wasn’t with them, and when they told him they had seen the Lord, he refused to believe.  We call him doubting Thomas, but he doesn’t doubt.  He refuses to believe.  In fact, you could translate the Greek, “Unless I see the wounds, I will never, ever believe.”  The Greek duplicates the negative.

     So, the next week he is with them, and Jesus shows up again.  He invites Thomas to touch his wounds, and Thomas cries out, “My Lord and my God” – the highest title for Jesus anywhere in John’s Gospel.  Jesus says to Thomas, “Do not be untrusty, but trusty.”  The translation is really bad right there.  “Do not be undependable, but dependable,” would be better.

     What happened there?  The disciples have been given the power to forgive or retain sins.  We have been given power to forgive or retain sins.  But Thomas demands to see and touch the wounds of Jesus.  I think he is saying to the other disciples, “Not so fast; we can’t forgive sins unless we take into account the harm done, first – unless we touch the wounds.”

     I think in our joy at the resurrection, we want to rush into a world where nothing has ever gone wrong.  Isn’t this America’s problem with race?  We want to live in a post-racist society, we want to think color doesn’t matter.  Thomas would say to us, “Wait a minute.  We have to touch the wounds first.”  What harm has race done?  And notice, Jesus’ wounds don’t go away after the resurrection.  They may be transformed and become revelatory, but there they are.  We will never live in a post-racist society.  The wounds will always be there.  We may be able to forgive sins, but the wounds remain – transformed, but there.

     Think of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.  If perpetrators of violence wanted to avoid prosecution, they had to allow the people they had harmed speak their truth.  And once those people had spoken their truth, and it had been heard, the desire for retribution went away.  Only in this way did South Africa avoid a blood-bath of retributive violence.

     Think about it in your own personal experience.  Maybe in your family, or among friends, harm has been done.  And you have forgiven, but never without acknowledging the harm done, and owning up to it.  I think that is why Jesus says to Thomas, do not be untrusty, but trusty.  Trust must be reestablished.  If we rush into forgiveness without touching the wounds, the peace won’t be a real peace, but just a papering over of conflict.      All of our lessons today suggest that the resurrection has real-world consequences.  Jesus’ resurrection isn’t just our ticket out of this world and into heaven.  It means we have to live differently here.  For John’s Gospel, it means we, the disciples, are given the hard work of forgiving sins and seeing the wounds of Jesus transformed into the signs of a new humanity fully alive.

Palm Sunday

Erica Olson-Bang

Today’s Liturgy of the Palms and the accompanying reading from Mark 11 are celebratory. We weren’t able to process with palms this year, but the usual procession with singing and rejoicing feels festive and, well, triumphal.

These celebratory acts come right out of the Mark 11 reading, and is usually referred to as the Triumphal Entry. Jesus, like a conquering king, rides into the city to the cheers and adoration of the people. Cloaks and branches are spread out on the road ahead of Jesus’ colt. Those marching into Jerusalem with him, before and behind, shout: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” This word, Hosanna, by the way, means “Save us now!” and suits the timely arrival of a conquering king. 

It’s clear from the kingly imagery and the references to the coming kingdom of David that those who gathered and cheered hoped that Jesus was the Messiah, that he was the one anointed by God to lead the people. They expected Jesus to rule the way David did–in the here and now–, the way so many other amazing leaders selected by God to lead Israel had. They hoped Jesus was the long-awaited king who would restore Israel to its former glory.

Unfortunately, at least from Mark’s perspective, they’d got it all wrong.


Don’t get me wrong, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is the Messiah.  That’s the whole point of Mark’s gospel. The problem is that the disciples’ expectations for the Messiah (and maybe ours) were all wrong.

The Gospel of Mark opens by announcing that Jesus is the Messiah. It begins,  “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah.” After this very clear opening statement, most of the rest of the gospel is focused on the question of Jesus’ identity (who gets it and who doesn’t) and is full of misunderstandings about who Jesus is and what it means to be the Messiah. The reality is that almost no one in the Gospel “gets it.” Even Jesus’ closest followers don’t seem to understand who he is or what he’s about. 

This dynamic is clearly seen in what I think is the key passage in Mark: Mark 8: 27-33. In this passage, Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” They answer by identifying some of things that others are saying: like, you’re John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, and so on. Then Jesus turns the question on them, “What about youWho do you say that I am?” And Peter answers: “You are the Messiah.”

And for that one moment, Peter was absolutely, perfectly correct.

Unfortunately, this moment of clarity was short lived. Verse 31 picks up again, saying, “[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” This teaching alarmed Peter, who pulled Jesus aside and “rebuked” him! Jesus was not having this and retorted with a surprisingly strongly-worded response: “Get behind me, Satan!…You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Yikes. I’d imagine that Peter was shocked, even embarrassed, by this rebuke.

I think this surprisingly harsh comment by Jesus signals to us that there’s a significant misunderstanding happening. Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah, but was dismayed when Jesus started to talk about the Messiah’s death. Peter’s idea of the Messiah couldn’t be further from Jesus’ understanding: for Jesus, the number one thing to know about the Messiah is that the Messiah will die.

This equating of the Messiah with death is precisely why the Triumphal Entry seems so out of place in the Gospel of Mark. The image of the triumphant king entering Jerusalem to the praise and adulation of his followers? It has nothing to do with Jesus’ own understanding of the Messiah who will suffer and die!

I wonder if this is why the end of the Mark 11 reading seems so anti-climatic: Jesus just sort of wandered around the temple for a bit and then headed home because no one was there. It feels a little aimless to me. Maybe this is a signal to readers that the story of Jesus-as-King isn’t going to go the way they expected (or we might hope).

We see this in the Mark’s Passion as well. Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of Jews, and Jesus deflected by saying to him: those are your words. And while there’s a great deal of kingly imagery in the reading as well (Jesus is given a crown and a robe and so on), but it is done in mockery. This leads me to the conclusion that Mark is resisting this narrative of Jesus-as-king throughout.


I think the problem with the image of Jesus as triumphant king (which I think is one that many of us share and is certainly present in the Liturgy of Palms) is that it isn’t really connected to the historical reality of the Jesus we see in the Gospels. Jesus-as-king might be precisely what Peter and all the others were hoping for, but it is very much out of step with Jesus’ identity and self-identity in Mark.

I wonder if we too are hoping for Jesus to arrive in the here-and-now in this sort of kingly way that actually has nothing to do with the Jesus we see in the Gospels. Aren’t we all hoping for someone to ride in on a horse, Prince-Charming style, to save us all? I can just hear us shouting “Save us now!”

But the Jesus of the Gospels is definitely not kingly, and the basic Christian posture, which is modeled on the life of Jesus, is also to be one of service and sacrifice, not kingly triumph. The Liturgy of the Palms, in this sense, feels like an anomaly for the Christian church. Perhaps it’s not very Christ-like at all?

Fittingly, the moment of triumph that opens today’s service doesn’t even make it all the way through the Palm Sunday service. We might start by singing “All glory, laud and power to thee Redeemer King,” but by the end of the service, we’ve turned our sights, like Jesus, to the coming cross. We have joined with the mob to shout, “crucify him,” and we have recognized with the Centurion that this crucified man was “surely…the Son of God.”

Like Jesus who turned his face to Jerusalem, we turn our faces now to Holy Week.


What does it mean for us to be the followers of a crucified man, instead of a triumphant king? What does it look like for us to be a people that gather at the foot of the cross, instead of parading through the streets?

If we turn our back on our misplaced hope of Jesus coming to us in the here and now as conquering king, who do we see? We see Jesus, the one who “gave [his] back to those who struck [him], and [his] cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; who did not hide [his] face from insult and spitting,” as it says in Isaiah. We see Jesus, who “become a reproach to all [his] enemies and even to [his] neighbors,” as it says in the Psalm. Jesus, the one who “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of  death – even death on a cross,” as it says in Phillipians. We see Jesus as the humble servant, and we are invited to humbly serve alongside him. 

Following the Humble Servant looks like keeping company with the humble, and not the important. Following the one who hangs on the cross, looks like gathering with those who suffer and mourn, not with the triumphant. Following the one whose resurrection has not-yet-fully come looks like doing the work of the kingdom until it does come, not sitting back as if it were already here.

As our collect concludes: “Mercifully grant [, O God,] that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection.” Amen.

Grief

Sermon for Sunday, February 7, 2021

Erica Olson-Bang

We are rounding the bend on a full year of pandemic living, and, lately, I’ve been trying to remember what it felt like when all of this started. When did I first hear about the new coronavirus? What did I think was happening? What were my expectations? (Can you remember back that far?) What did I expect last March when we first went into lockdown? I remember thinking we would be doing this for 2 or 4 weeks. 6 weeks at the most. This seems laughable to me now. How could I have ever imagined that we’d be here, 11 months later, with no clear sense of when this time might end. There IS hope on the horizon in the form of vaccines–which I am incredibly thankful for–, but still we know that it’s going to be a long time until we go back to what used to call “normal life.” Sometimes when I’m reading the news too late at night, I wonder if we will ever get to “normal” again. Or if we’re stuck in what they keep referring to as the “new normal.” 

There was an article that was going around social media during the first weeks of the pandemic, entitled: “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.” The author of the article consulted with a prominent grief researcher and asked if what we were experiencing as a society was grief, and he said: “Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs…The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.” And this was back in MARCH! March: when the daily national deaths were only in the double digits, not the thousands. Our many griefs have only compounded since then. 

As those early weeks stretched into months and soon a year, that statement (That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief) has become even more true. As Dan said last week, all of us have just buckets of unprocessed grief that we’re carrying around with us right now. Moreover, so many of our usual ways of processing our grief have been shut off to us, or so changed as to become unrecognizable. How do you grieve without funerals or hugs or someone to hold your hand or the presence of a warm casserole being held out by a warm body.

I didn’t fully recognize my own unprocessed grief until I watched the coronavirus vigil that was held on the night before the inauguration. I cried a lot during that short memorial service, and my reaction to it let me know that there’s a ton of grief there, just below the surface, grief that I have not tended to. During this time we’re also sharing in Dan’s grief as he is with his mother in her last days. If you’re like me, his grief over the last days has reawaken my own grief–reminding me that it’s still there, just waiting. 

We all have our own griefs at this time, and my own personal grief has been fairly limited, all things considered. Others have faced much more than I have, and still others have lost much more. But I think it’s important for each of us to recognize our own grief at this time–in all the big and small ways it comes. 

I’ll share just a couple of things that are grieving me. Some are small: a new nephew that I haven’t met, for example.

Other griefs are big ones: like the reality that I haven’t seen my parents in 15 months and that my dad’s health is failing. He lives in Minnesota, and he has Alzheimer’s. I fear that the good times with him are slipping away during this interval. I have been grieving those lost times. 

There are many others, large and small, that I could mention. I share these two examples with you because I think that we need to come to terms with our grief: to name it and to acknowledge the deep sense of loss that it brings. 


Today’s lectionary brings together two texts that seek to comfort a people that are grieving. Both the Isaiah text and the Psalm are addressed to the people of Judah during the time of their exile. 

What was their grief? The people of Judah had been defeated, and with them, their god; their cities and homes were destroyed, and their place of worship broken down and desecrated; they had been carried off, far away from their homeland; they lived then in the lands of their captors, under the thumb of their oppressors, and they were full of grief for what they had lost. 

God spoke to them in the midst of their grief, and what message does God have for these grieving people?

The Psalmist says to them: 

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; 

he gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted 

and binds up their wounds.

And the author of Isaiah writes, 

[The Lord] gives power to the faint,

and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

and the young will fall exhausted;

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

they shall walk and not faint.

God’s message to his grieving people is one of restoration: that in God what has been lost will be restored, that what has been broken will be fixed, that the powerless, weak, faint and exhausted will be renewed. 

Practically, for the Israelites, this meant that God would restore them to their lost land and the destroyed temple and homes would be rebuilt. A very literal restoration. 

But it also teaches us something about God: that God is in the business of restoring the hope of the grieving. 

We see this in Jesus as well, in the passage from Mark that we read this morning:

As Jesus starts his ministry, what is he busy doing? Mark writes, “That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.” Jesus busies himself restoring health and life and community to those who are sick, unwell, and at the margins of society. Like God, he is in the business of restoring the hope of the grieving. 

There’s a little thing that interests me at the end of this passage as well. The next morning, Jesus says: “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” What was interesting to me here is that as far as Mark relates to us, Jesus wasn’t preaching at all. He was healing and casting out demons. So what does he mean when talks about “proclaiming his message”? What message? 

This made me wonder if his message is the healings, is the casting out of demons. The next line in the gospel suggests that this might be right. It reads, “And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.” Again no spoken message, instead we see healings and castings out. Now maybe he was preaching along with healing and casting out, but that’s not what Mark is interested in. For Mark Jesus’ message IS his actions. And his actions look like this: restoring what is broken, healing what is sick, bringing life to the dead. 


I have a favorite theologian from grad school: a Dutch Catholic man named Edward Schillebeeckx. A key aspect of his theology is what he called: “negative contrast experiences.” Negative contrast experiences are those moments where we recognize that things are not as they ought to be. Think for a moment of the photos of immigrant children held in cages. Something in our spirit rebelled against these images as just wrong, an offence against everything we believe about the value of children and how they should be treated. For Schillebeeckx, these moments of “no, this should not be!” this experience of offense or grief teaches us to recognize the places where God’s restoring work is needed. It’s like a big traffic cone marking out a problem in the road.

In this sense, grief is like pain. Pain has an important and useful function: it alerts us to what is going on with our body. Grief operates in this same way. It alerts us to those places where God’s fullness is missing, places begging for restoration. 

Grief then is not just an important emotion that we need to allow ourselves to experience–though it is that. It is also a spiritual process; it has a theological function. It shows us those places in our lives that are just begging for God’s healing work. 

Allowing ourselves to grieve, then is theological work. It is to take note of the need for God’s healing, to allow ourselves to long for God’s fullness, to yearn for restoration.

Our grief is also a sort of invitation to God. It invites God to come and to bring wholeness to what is broken, to restore what is lost, to bring life to what has died.  In this time of grieving, I pray that we have the courage to name our grief and to hold the grief of others. I pray that we have the compassion to comfort others in their grief and to care for ourselves. In so doing, may we pour out to God our longing, our yearning for wholeness. May we invite God to come, bringing with him his wholeness, life, and restoration. Amen.

Vestry Minutes – Dec 28, 2020

PRESENT:

Clergy: The Rev. Dan Handschy

Wardens:Tina Kopp and Bob Meyer

Vestry: Mike Kimber, Jim Shults, Dave Tyler, Ann Wickes and Linda Williams  Absent:Laura Hannett-Smith and Carol Murphy

Treasurer:Denise Mako

Due to COVID-19 the vestry meetings conducted via ZOOM.
The vestry meeting opened at 7:00PM with a prayer for those suffering from COVID and their loved ones.  The minutes from November were read online and Jim S. made a motion to approve them, seconded by Dave T. and approved.


PRIEST-IN-CHARGE REPORT: Dan H. There is not a lot to report.  Dan H. made several phone calls and helped a parishioner get to an appointment.
The wardens had nothing to report.


TREASURER’S REPORT: Denise M. The forgiveness for the PPP loan was repaid in the amount of $7664.92. Our Year To Date income/expense will show a profit of about $3000.00.   The prepaid pledges fo 2021 will post in the beginning of January. There is a pre-Denise’s time pot of money ($6,946.00) in a designated fund.  However this fund has not been broken down as for what this money can be used.  We will address that in the budget discussion.  Jim S. made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report, seconded by Bob M. and, using the Zoom polling tool, approved.


OLD BUSINESS: We have received a letter of agreement from the Diocese, calling Dan H. as Rector.  This was read on-line and a motion to accept this letter was made by Dave T., seconded by Tina K. and approved.  The wardens need to stop by the office to sign this letter. Stewardship: Dan H. So far we have $112,294.00 in pledges for 2021.  There are two units that have not returned their cards.  Last year these units pledged $6,120.  However we do not expect them to meet those numbers in the coming year. Housing allowance: Dan H. Resolved that St. David’s Episcopal Church pay The Rev. Dan Handschy a monthly housing allowance of $833.33 as part of his overall compensation package in 2021.  This resolution is to remain in force until otherwise modified.  Bob M. moved to accept this Resolution, seconded by Dave T. and approved.


BUDGET: Denise M. The budget for 2021 will show a deficit of about $13,000.00.  After the excess money from 2020 is added in, we will have a deficit budget of $10,408.00.  Due to the uncertainly of 2021 there is no fundraising income nor are the two outstanding pledge units included in the budget.  There are lots of uncertainties – will we have much income from building rental, special offerings, etc.?  We do not have our Diocesan assessment yet. There was much discussion about the money in the designated fund.   Mike K. made a motion to move $3,000.00 of the $6,946.00 into the designated music fund and divide the remaining fund equally among the designated funds for Outreach, Flowers and Memorial.  This was seconded by Linda W. and approved.  This would bring the soloist budget line item down to $4,500.00 from $7,500.00, the rest of the soloists’ salaries would come from the Music Designated Fund.  The Outreach line item will be brought to 0 and outreach will be paid from the Outreach Designated Fund.  With these changes we will present a deficit budget of $4,408.  A motion was made by Dave T. to accept this budget, seconded by Bob M. and approved.


NEW BUSINESS: Annual meeting: Dan H. As the Annual Meeting will be virtual we need to be sure that those who do not have computer access will have a means with which to vote.  There was a discussion as to whether to use phone in or paper ballots.  Dan H. will be sure that those who cannot vote via the computer will have paper ballots ahead of time.  The meeting will be January 31, 2021. Vestry seats: Dan H. At last year’s annual meeting, we voted to change the number of vestry for nine (9) to six (6).  Leaving the vestry in 2021 are Laura H-S., Bob M., Dave T., Ann W. and Linda W.  Carol M. is moving and her position will need to be filled until 2023.  We will need one warden (can come from the vestry), two (2) vestry persons for a three (3) year term until the annual meeting in 2024 and one (1) for a two (2) year term until the annual meeting of 2023.  Two people have agreed to become vestry members so we still need one more.  Suggestions are welcome.
Dave T. made a motion to adjourn at 8:26PM, seconded by Jim S. and approved.  Our next meeting will be January 25, 2021 at 7:00PM.


Respectfully submitted,
Susan Parry, Clerk of the Vestry

Vestry Minutes – Nov 23, 2020

PRESENT: Clergy:The Rev. Dan Handschy

Wardens: Tina Kopp and Bob Meyer

Vestry: Laura Hannett-Smith, Mike Kimber, Carol Murphy, Jim Shults, Dave Tyler, Ann Wickes and Linda Williams

Treasurer: Denise Mako (Absent)

The minutes for the Board of Directors of St. David’s Court were sent on-line.  There are two corrections: Dave Tyler and Ann Wickes were present.  These corrections will be sent to Cindy Bird at Christopher Community.  Jim S. made a motion to accept the minutes for St. David’s Court as corrected, seconded by Tina Kopp and approved.   It was noted that the Conflict of Interest forms for St. David’s Court must be signed and scanned to Cindy B. if you have not already done so.  The minutes for the October vestry meeting were read on-line.  Carol M. moved to accept the minutes, seconded by Linda W. and approved.


REPORT OF THE PRIEST-IN-CHARGE: Dan H. Dan H. spoke of his pastoral visits via telecommunication with one home visit he felt necessary. So far we have received over $1000.00 in memorial gifts for Corinne Farnham. Dan H. was chair of the Nominating Committee for the Diocesan Annual Convention.  He is pleased that all positions have been filled. The electronic equipment that we are using at the 10AM service was purchased with a grant we received form the Diocese. Nick Fields will be taking over the music program for the next few weeks.

WARDENS’ REPORT: Bob M We will continue to use Brophy’s Cleaning Service even if we are shut down.  We cannot keep turning the service on and off.  Groups are still using the building so we still need cleaning service.  Perhaps they could do some more intensive tasks with their extra time.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Dan H. The application for forgiveness of the PPP loan has been sent to Solvay bank who has submitted it.  As of today the loan forgiveness has not been posted to our account. We are very close to budget for our plate offerings and pledges.  We are still in the black. There is a large discrepancy in the clergy medical expense line.  This is because the budget was based on the 2019 allowance and Kathy Corley was a single person whereas Dan H. is a +1.  The budget will be adjusted for 2021. Dan H. will contact the groups using our building to be sure they are coming back.  Some of the groups, notable the Anonymous  groups, cannot pay rent per their by-laws so they can only make contributions to us. Civic Morning Musicals do not have any dates for concerts until May.  We need to check to be sure they have paid for the insurance on the piano which Dan H. will do. A motion was made by Dave T. to accept the Treasurer’s Report, seconded by Jim S. and approved.

OLD BUSINESS:

Calling Dan H. as rector: Dan H. Although Dan H. has received a card from the bishop, congratulating him, he has not received an official letter naming him as Rector of St. David’s.  He would like to mark this occasion with a Celebration of New Ministry.  He would like to announce it to the congregation but wait until we can worship together again for the service.  He will check with Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent as to when this should take place.

Stewardship Campaign: Dan H. So far we have 24 pledges for $72,674.00 with 17 likely pledges still to come in.  If these pledge units do not increase and remain at the same level as 2020, it would generate an additional $45,350.00 for a total of $118,024.00 which is an increase over last year.  This is absolutely remarkable considering the year we’ve had.   Finance Committee: Dan H. We need to schedule a meeting before the next vestry meeting.

NEW BUSINESS: There will be a suspension of worship, at least through the new year.  Dan H. is pleading for suggestions for a Christmas Eve service.  Bob M. wondered if the Diocese had any plans.  Perhaps we could partner with Eastside Episcopalians.  Any thoughts are welcome PLEASE!  Jim S. suggested we move the service to 9:00PM.   We have always had a giving tree but with suspension of worship that is not possible.  Laura H-S. will contact Huntington Center to see if we can do anything for them.  Carol M. said that Interfaith Works would likely be needing gifts, too. Linda W. asked that we take the blurb out of the newsletter asking for sandwich making for the Samaritan Center since we are no longer making sandwiches but making a cash contribution instead.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:44.  Our next meeting is December 28, 2020, at 7:00PM.

November 23 Vestry Agenda

Members: Bob Meyer, Warden (2021), Laura Hannett-Smith (2021), David Tyler (2021), Anne Wickes (2021), Linda Williams (2021), Tina Kopp, Warden (2022), Mike Kimber (2022), Carol Murphy (2023), Jim Shults (2023), Clerk: Sue Parry; Treasurer: Denise Mako

Priest-in-Charge:  The Rev. Dan Handschy

Agenda

  • Approval of St. David’s Court minutes
    • Conflict of interest forms?
  • Approval of October minutes
  • Report of priest-in-charge
  • Wardens’ reports
  • Treasurer’s report.
  • Other reports

Old business

  • Calling Dan as rector – I’ve received a card from the bishop, but wondering about official letter.
  • PPP loan forgiveness paperwork filed – Vanessa at Solvay says all is in order, waiting on SBA.
  • Stewardship; report of pledge drive so far.
    • 24 Pledges so far, for $72,674
    • 17 likely pledges outstanding for $45,350 (conservative – no increase)
    • Likely total:  41 pledges for a total of $118,024
    • Last year:  41 pledges for a total of $114,384

New Business

  • suspension of in-person worship

October 26 Vestry Minutes

Approved November 23, 2020

Due to COVID-19 the vestry meeting was conducted via ZOOM beginning at 7:00PM.

PRESENT:
Clergy:The Rev. Dan Handschy
Wardens:Tina Kopp and Bob Meyer
Vestry:Mike Kimber, Carol Murphy, Jim Shults, Dave Tyler, Ann Wickes and Linda Williams
Absent:Laura Hannett-Smith
Treasurer:Denise Mako
St. David’s Court:Cindy Byrd, David DeSilva and Douglas Riecher

ST. DAVID’S COURT:
Cindy B. asked if there were any corrections to the minutes from April. Carol M. made a motion to accept the minutes, seconded by Mike K. and approved.
David D. from Dermody Burke and Brown went over the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. It was a very clean audit. St. David’s Court is a well run building. Tina K. made a motion to accept the audit, seconded by Mike K. and approved.
Cindy B. explained the Conflict of Interest form. Each vestry member must fill it out and return it to her.
Cindy B. went over the YTD budget and explained any variations. The site has a part-time manager and a full time live in superintendent. The superintendent position is currently vacant. The proposal for converting to solar electricity purchased from a solar farm was approved earlier in the year by the vestry vis e-mail.

At 7:46 the St. David’s Court portion of the meeting was closed and the regular vestry meeting began. The minutes for September were read online. Jim S. made a motion to approve the minutes, seconded by Dave T. and approved.

REPORT OF THE PRIEST-IN-CHARGE: Dan H.
Dan H. brought us up to date on his pastoral care visitations. He was quarantined for two weeks after his return form Colorado. He is the chair of the Nomination Committee for the Diocesan Convention.

WARDENS’ REPORT:
Tina K. will put the minutes on the website.
There was a question about our outreach for the Samaritan Center. Any contributions to the sandwich fund is put into the designated fund for outreach. There is currently around $4000.00 and we are spending $130.00 to $151.00 per week. They no longer need sandwich makings as they are back to serving hot meals. They can buy food more cheaply than we can so cash contributions are preferred. Our outreach to the Samaritan Center is reflected in the Parochial Report. Ann W. made a motion to donate $400.00 a month for the next six months to the Samaritan Center, seconded by Carol M. and approved.
Mike K. asked if we had an outreach plan in place. We currently do not. We should make a plan for long term.

TREASURER’S REPORT:Denise M.
In September we had a loss of $2032.00. 83% of pledges are paid. We might squeak through in October. Because some pay their pledges at the beginning of the year, we are closing the gap in our budget so we hope to make it though the end of the year on target. All bills are current and our assessment is up to date. The paperwork for forgiveness of the PPP loan is filled out and will be submitted soon. Brophy, the cleaning service, will be going up $20.00 per month. The service was resumed last week.
The money coming in for the outreach program for the Samaritan Center is astonishing.

CALLING DAN H. AS RECTOR:Dan H.
Denise M. has given Dan H. the four years of financial records which the Diocese requested. He will file these with Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent tomorrow. He will add kudos for the outpouring for outreach. Jim S. made a motion that Dan H. file the five year financial projection with Carrie S-B., seconded by Bob M. and approved. Lots of good stuff came out of the cottage meetings. Thanks to those who ran the meetings. It was asked that the minutes be posted on the website and Tina K. will do that. We will also have someone from the vestry give a short update during announcements on a regular basis.

NEW BUSINESS:Dan H.
The Stewardship letters went out today and pledge cards will go out next week. We will again have individuals write a short note for the weekly newsletter on how giving, not only to St. David’s, has helped their spiritual growth.
The music yesterday was fabulous. We purchased equipment using the $3000.00 grant from the diocese to enhance the music program for those listening online.
Coffee hour will be move to 12:00 rather than 1:00.
Reservations are still needed for in-person worship to permit for contact tracing if necessary.

Dave T. made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:15, seconded by Jim S. and approved. Our next meeting will be Monday, November 23 at 7:00PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Parry, Clerk of the Vestry

September Vestry Minutes

Due to COVD-19 the vestry meeting was conducted via ZOOM beginning at 5:30PM.

PRESENT:

Clergy:The Rev. Dan Handschy

Wardens: Tina Kopp and Bob Meyer

Vestry: Laura Hannett-Smith, Mike Kimber, Carol Murphy, Jim Shults, Dave Tyler, Ann Wickes and Linda Williams

Tresurer:Denise Mako

The minutes from August were read on-line. Two corrections were noted: The meeting ended at 6:20PM and there was a double negative in the paragraph about our cleaning service. Dave T. made a motion to accept the corrected minutes, seconded by Bob M. and approved.

Dan H. discussed his electronic visitations.

Dan H. will be going back to Colorado to pack up his mom for her move to Bellingham, Washington. He will leave on September 28 and return on October 7.

This meeting will serve as our September vestry meeting so we will not meet on September 28.

Dick Fields has a plan for the music program. Dan H. will forward Dick F.’s e-mail to the vestry.

We need two delegates to the virtual Diocesan Convention being held November 20-21. There will be sessions for a few hours each day with breaks in between. Jim S. and Carol M. volunteered to attend. Bob M. moved to accept Jim S. and Carol M. as our delegates to the Diocesan Convention, seconded by Dave T. and approved.

PRIEST-IN-CHARGE REPORT:Dan H.

MOVING BACK INSIDE:Dan H.

Diocesan Step III states that we can return to inside worship at 33% of the building capacity. That would allow us 46 people at each service. We must file a covenant with the Diocese to move back indoors. This would require a deep cleaning (Brophy can do that), physical distancing, no singing, one way in and another way out, no common touch objects such as collection plates or books, no coffee hour and Communion with bread only. Reservations must be made for in person worship. Are we ready? Bob M. has spoken with Brophy and they will get back to us with a quote. Once we resume the cleaning service it would need to be on a regular basis as opposed to as needed. Linda W. asked if it could be scheduled every other week instead of weekly. Dan H. said that we could help with the deep cleaning so that Brophy would not have to do more than they did before we closed. Dave T. asked what would happen with Brophy if we have to close again. Bob M. will ask when they call back. There is a Diocesan grant for deep cleaning. The filing deadline is Friday so we will get that in by then. We can clean the pews, doorknobs and other shared surfaces ourselves at the end of the service.

Will we have one or both services? Bob M. said we could use the phone tree to get parishioner’s opinions whether if we should move back indoors.

It was decided to file a covenant to resume services indoors, beginning October 11, the first Sunday after Dan H returns. We will still stream the 10:00 service for those who are not comfortable coming into the building.

Some building use groups have returned. They must have less than 15 people attending and they must clean before and after the meeting. They must follow the same cleaning precautions we do for services.

What can we do about hanging up coats? Maybe we could hum hymns.

LETTER TO THE BISHOP:Tina K. and Bob M.

The wardens have met with Dan H. and Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent and drafted a letter to the Bishop calling Dan H. as Rector for St. David’s. There was discussion as to when we should send the letter. Carrie S-B. suggested that we hold virtual cottage meetings to let the parishioners know that the vestry decided to call Dan H. as Rector and to share the data from the vestry survey. It would also give the parishioners a chance to voice their opinion and ask questions. This will be the opportunity for folks to share their thoughts, find out where they think God is leading St. David’s and let the vestry know what else they would like to see in our future. Two vestry persons will host each session. Dan H. will set up the dates and the ZOOM meetings. There will be a session in the building for those who do not have electronic access after the Diocese has approved our covenant. Laura H-S. suggested that the survey results go out the the congregation before the cottage meetings are held. Jim S. stated that it would be simpler to mail the survey results out with a request to send it back with questions, suggestions and comments. Dan H. said that Carrie S-B. suggested in person meetings as it would help people connect with each other and the vestry. Surveys often are cold and impersonal. We will also offer the opportunity to speak with a vestry person one-on-one if some one is uncomfortable airing an opinion in a group setting. Jim S. made a motion to send the letter, as drafted by the wardens, to the Bishop requesting that Dan H. be called as Rector to St. David’s, seconded by Linda W. and approved. This letter will be sent shortly.

Jim S. made a motion to adjourn at 6:29PM, seconded by Dave T., and approved. Our next meeting will be Monday, October 26, at 7:00PM

Cottage meeting notes

Cottage meeting attendees:  Tina Kopp, Dave Tyler, Frank Decker, David Burgess, Wendy Flynn, Rob Hradsky.

In reviewing the survey results, there was some confusion because the results didn’t display the key (1= strongly disagree to 5= strongly agree). For most questions a “high score” was good, but for the couple of negative questions (i.e. “We have a communication problem”), a low score was good.

     Frank noted that the Vestry communicated well. He said that we were especially open about finances which is apparently not the case in many Episcopal churches.

      There was a discussion about how the vestry communicates with the parish. Should monthly minutes be available to everyone either on-line or in the newsletter? If so, personal or confidential information should be omitted. Rob suggested that a vestry member could give a brief update during a church service.

     There was strong consensus that Dan has been wonderful. He gives excellent sermons which is important. David Burgess said that he is a Godsend, welcoming and kind.

      Frank felt that talent and enthusiasm are what drives St. David’s.

      D. Burgess would like a picture of each congregant for a collage.

      There was a question as to whether a demographic profile of each member should be sent to the diocese.

       Wendy is interested in arranging with some local artists to show their work in the church on a rotating basis. The details will have to be worked out after the pandemic.

       I think it’s safe to say that everyone is more than happy with Dan and would be very pleased to have him as our Rector.

Meeting #2

Get on with it = (IMO) enough rigmarole; time to install Rev. Dan

Time restriction answer: Linda answered that he would be a permanent fixture. That seemed to satisfy the inquiry.

Meeting #3

– What effect does Dan moving from priest-in-charge to rector have on his compensation?

Remain the same? Form/parts change but total remains the same? Will it change?

– Relating to one or more of the survey questions;  “are these unresolved issues at St. Davids because of the past (Wally?)  or current”.

– Feeling of positive attitude at St. Davids in that people, including the Diocese, are looking forward and not being influenced by the past.

– Dan’s weekly Bible study is very worthwhile as well as interesting.  Too bad more people do not take advantage of it.


Learn from these things

Sermon; Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost; 11 October 2020; Proper 23A (RCL); Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23′ Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14.

     Groan.  Matthew ruins a perfectly good parable.  Luke has a version of this same parable.  A man throws a feast, but when he sends his servants to tell those invited that the feast is ready, they beg off, one after the other.  When the servants return, the host tells them to go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and invite those they find.  When they have done that, there is still more room, so he sends them out again, to invite in more, including the lame and the blind.

     Rachel Held Evans used this story in one of her blog posts.  She said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there’s always room for more.”  It’s a great image.

     But Matthew needs to throw in some vindictiveness.  The King becomes enraged with those who bowed out, and sends his army to destroy their city.  Matthew turns this story into a story about Jewish unfaithfulness.  Because the Jews refused to come to the feast, God destroyed Jerusalem.  Of course, the story no longer makes narrative sense – by the time he has sent his army, the feast is no longer worth eating.  And then there’s the poor guy not wearing his wedding garment.  Scholars think that Matthew is talking about baptism here.  The way to get in to the kingdom feast is by baptism.  Matthew has to have weeping and gnashing of teeth in the story somewhere.

     The Exodus story also highlights God’s vindictiveness.  When Israel and Judah split after the death of Solomon, Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom worried that people would go up to Jerusalem for sacrifice, and the would lose the loyalty of the people of Israel.  So, he built two sanctuaries, on at Dan and one at Bethel, and placed at each of them a golden calf.  He then proclaimed, “Behold your Gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”  The authors of Exodus wrote this event back into the story of the wilderness – it makes no sense for Aaron to say, “Behold your gods, O Israel,” when there is only one calf.  God threatens to destroy the people and start over with Moses.  Only Moses remind God that God is God changes the divine mind.  It seems Moses is better at mercy than God.

     I suppose it’s good that stories like these are in the Bible.  They remind us just how easy it is to think our version of God is the only correct version.  If our God is the right God, then vindictiveness makes sense.  Everyone else must think like us to be right.  But, then there’s a story like Luke’s version of this parable also in the Bible, reminding us that we have to use our own imaginations and sense of justice to come to understand God.  Dorothy Day once said, “I really only love God as much as the person I love the least.”  Ouch.

     So, Paul gives us a different perspective.  I think this is his last letter, written as he was on his way to his death.  Other early Christian martyrs imitated this letter in their final missives, so it seems like they understood it as his last letter.  Last week, we heard him say he desired to stay in the body, rather than go to Christ, so he could continue to teach the Philippians for their joy.  By these lines, it seems like he knows he won’t, in fact, be able to come to them.  So, he gives his final instruction.

     Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I’ll say it, rejoice.  And then my favorite verses in the Bible: “Finally beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, set your mind on these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”

     Our translation said “think about these things.”  The Greek really means something more like “learn from these things.”  Paul can’t teach them anymore, but he is convinced that they can learn what they need to on their own.  They can determine whatever is true and just and good.

     As you are probably aware, I’ve been in Colorado packing up my mom’s house for her move to Bellingham, Washington, to a two-bedroom cottage on my sister’s property.  My parents built that house in Arvada, and we moved in in early 1962.  My mom has been downsizing for years, and my sister and I were out there in early September getting rid of the last bits.  As you can imagine, it was hard for both my mom and me to empty out that house and pack it up.  Fifty-nine years is a lot of memories.

     My mom talked about being a forward-thinker.  Hard as it is to close a chapter, you have to do it to look forward.  We reminisced about all the memories we would carry with us from that house.  When we moved in, there was no development behind us.  We could go right out the back door into wide open fields, and we played in hose fields for years.  The freedom, the exploring, the adventures, were all a part of my growing up.

     We talked about the amazing gift the house had given us, and how we will carry that gift with us as we go forward.  I think that is what Paul is telling his Philippian congregation.  Grief is always hard, but Paul wants them to hold on to the true and beautiful in the world.

     Perhaps we need this in this polarized times.  Matthew wants his God to be right, and in consequence, everyone else to be wrong.  Then God can punish all the others.  Paul, on the other hand, calls our attention to whatever is true, whatever is beautiful, and just, and excellent.  He is confident that he has taught us enough that we can find those things and then learn from them.      As we get closer to this election, I hope we can focus on those excellences and virtues we can all agree on.  I will always treasure the gifts I take from family and from a fortunate growing-up.  I hope to learn from those things, and learn how to share them with others.  That is a much more expansive vision of who God is than Matthew’s vindictiveness.  I think Rachel Held Evans is right:  then kingdom is just a bunch of misfits at the table because they were invited.  My growing-up was just plain lucky, a gift given for no good reason.  When we are given much, I hope we build a longer table, rather than erecting a fence.