Midweek Update from St. Andrew's - February 10, 2021
This week is the final week of Epiphany. The word epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “manifestation” or “appearance.” In the church calendar it refers to the appearance of the star that led the wise men to Jesus as an infant. Since Christmas, the lectionary readings have focused on the illumination of Christ in the world and in our lives through compassion, righteousness, and hope. Each season of the church calendar brings the seeds of the previous season to fruition and leaves behind seeds for the next season. As Epiphany comes to a close we can take that assurance that God is with us (Emmanuel means “God with us”) and look to it as a light we can carry into the coming season of Lent.
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, which is one week from today. Ash Wednesday is a remembrance of our mortality and our need for God. But do we really need that reminder this year? Haven’t we been in a kind of extended Lenten season, ushered in by the harbinger of mortality and marked by the setting aside of our joyful distractions? It has been a year of extended isolation and prayer and maybe even repentance. So how do we observe Lent when we are already exhausted by it? Well, there is another side to Lent for us to explore. And this side can be seen in the seeds left behind by Epiphany. The Worship Sourcebook presents it this way:
“the primary focus of [Lent] is to explore and deepen a “baptismal spirituality” that centers on our union with Christ rather than to function only as an extended meditation on Christ’s suffering and death.”
Lent is the spring cleaning time of the church year. If you are drained of all repentance, tired of isolation, and missing shouts of hallelujahs, rest assured it's time to prepare for a party. Lent cleans out the house for the celebration of Easter, a celebration we largely missed last year. Now, I am not saying that things are “back to normal.” By no means! But, we can see the light on the horizon. So, let’s use the next six weeks as a time to get ready for that light. Clean out the closets, buy some new clothes online, it's time to start preparing for a debut!
From the Presbytery Meeting
Last Saturday, February 6, Rev. Jennifer Fraser delivered the Meditation at the Presbytery of Santa Barbara meeting. You can view a recording of that six-minute presentation by clicking the link below.
Presbyterians in PC(USA) are connected through a national network of the denomination. PC(USA) functions through bodies spanning from our congregation and Session, through Presbytery, through Synod, to the national General Assembly. Each of these councils leads the work of the church, including governance, establishment of polity, and ministries. The operation of each level of council is funded by its members and establishes an annual assessment to each individual Presbyterian through the 'per capita' process. You can learn more about per capita from this video presented by PC(USA).
For 2021 St. Andrew's is assessed $84.49 for each member of the congregation ($8.98 for General Assembly, $2.85 for Synod, $72.66 for Presbytery). Many of our members choose to contribute this amount as a special donation to recognize their participation in the work of the denomination. If you would like to do so, simply make your donation payable to St. Andrew's and mark the memo "Per Capita."
Ash Wednesday online, 2/17/21
Next Wednesday we will have a short Ash Wednesday service online. There will be no imposition of Ashes this year, but we will have a time of music, prayer, and meditation online. Worship link will come out on February 17th.
Adult Education Series continues this Sunday!Rev. Jen Fraser will continue her six-week class, "Reclaiming Evangelism.” This is an honest examination of the history and practice of evangelism with an eye toward re-discovering the intention and meaning behind Matthew 28:19-20. The class consists of four main sections.
1) Evangelism and the early church
As the early church was first developing, evangelism was a means of inviting the marginalized into the "way of Jesus." Opening up an alternative spiritual community to Gentiles, the poor, slaves, women, and children in which the Roman honor/shame value system was inverted, and God appeared among (and cared for) the lowest in society.
2) Evangelism and the politically emerging church
As the church began to emerge as a political power, hierarchical structures were consolidated within the institution. Evangelism then becomes a means of securing allegiance and controlling the resources within territories.
3) Evangelism as a tool of colonialism
From early modern European expansion, to the "Christianizing" of Native American communities, to the contemporary white evangelical church's embrace of the conservative political agenda, evangelism continues to serve as a tool for consolidating power and wealth.
4) Evangelism in a multi-cultural, interfaith society.
Is it possible to redeem evangelism from its legacy as a tool of political, social, economic and cultural dominance? What should we call it when we open up about matters of faith with our family, friends and neighbors? Can we share our spiritual/soulful experiences with others without trying to "convert?" Do we as Christian have something of real value to offer the "non-believer?"
Please Join us Sundays right after Coffee Hour at 11 AM on Zoom!