Glad Tidings April 2013
Inside this issue: From Rev. Laurel
Liturgical Changes for April
From the Deacon’s Bench
Flower Arranging Fun
Love INC Looking for Volunteers
Youth for Education Seeking Hosts
There’s an App for That
From Rev. Laurel “THE LORD DOWNLOADS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS.”
I thought that was a very clever statement. It reflects the “wired” culture of our time. It appeals to the new way people access information, communicate, and keep in touch with one another. As people of faith, we are in a lifelong process of doing these things with God. We have access to every Bible translation there is, without having to actually purchase another volume. There are churches that only exist on the internet. Facebook even has a wall for God on which you can write messages. The internet has proven itself to be powerful at uniting people. I might argue that it has brought more people together, more effectively, and faster than the spread of Christianity ever did, even at its finest moments. A quick search of God, or religion, or faith, or words to that effect, yields pages upon pages of links to
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related sites. If you want to know something about God, you’re only a few keystrokes away to more than you thought you wanted to know. On one level, communication technology in our century has been a boon to Christian formation. Relations between practitioners of different faiths have never before had this kind of access to learn from one other and build bridges of understanding, cooperation, and mutual respect. Using this technology makes it easier to share liturgical resources, mission and formation ideas, even hear another pastor’s sermon, and all of it helps further build upon our understanding of the human-divine relationship. God has managed to find ways to speak to God’s people for thousands of years. Whether it’s Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or English; or through music, art, and movement; via the still small voice, or in the silence; when God wants to get in touch with us, God finds a way. Humans continually come up with new ways to communicate, and our all-powerful, omniscient, and loving God manages to keep up, and speak to us in whatever way it takes for us to listen. Download God into your prayer life today!
Liturgical Changes for April Now that Christ has risen and we can set aside much our penitential forms of prayer. We will return to Rite 2 on Sundays. We will return to sung processionals, our beloved *lleluia, and all the brightness and joy of being people of the Resurrection. Other changes to note will be our Eucharistic Prayer. Since we’ve moved out of a time of deep penitence, we now get to stand to rejoice as we acknowledge in Eucharistic Prayer B. Because this is a particularly joyous season, we will not use the Confession.
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From the Deacon’s Bench Dear Friends, God has blessed me many times, and at least two of those times have been when I walked through the front door of St. Mary’s in-the-Hills. The first time was probably in 1991when I was supporting my daughter, Caroline, on her journey into the Episcopal world and marriage. She eventually was married, had two children who were baptized here, and moved out of the area, but I have stayed almost from the beginning until I was ordained and assigned as Parish Deacon to St. Andrew’s, Waterford. The second time occurred when Laurel and Archdeacon MacKenzie invited me to be Deacon at the altar for Laurel’s installation. [If you were here, you know what a wonderful and inviting and inclusive celebration of ministry it was!] At the end, Bishop Gibbs told me I could work with Laurel if she’d have me, and she said she would, so starting March 17, 2013, I returned to my parish home, St. Mary’s in-the-Hills, as Parish Deacon for however long God, Laurel, and/or Bishop Gibbs desire. Now you have a first response to the question that might have entered your mind, “How does Marlyn Stroud happen to be here?” Another first question others of you might have is “Who is Marlyn Stroud?” [I find it difficult to talk about myself, but I’ll try to give you the basics, and after that I invite you to ask me any questions you want to ask, except, “How much do you weigh?” when we chat face to face.] The basics: I reside in Clarkston, and I work at Oakland Community College and Mott Community College as adjunct faculty, but I am retired from full time work. My husband, Roy, and I will celebrate our 48 th anniversary in May. We have two kids who gave us five grandkids. Everyone lives nearby, so we are blessed indeed! I am a cancer survivor. [I had cancer in my jaw bone, and it was removed along with all my teeth. If you have questions about this cancer, please ask. It left me with a funny face, no teeth, and an inability to pronounce some consonants, so I work
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hard at trying to clearly enunciate words.] Those of you who know me from before, I think already know I’m the “what you see is what you get” kind of gal. In terms of ministry, I serve God and the church mostly in the world. My classes at Mott and Oakland find me doing things that go far beyond the normal range of an English teacher. Rape, incest, murder, abuse, hunger, poverty, prison are words/subjects many of my students know through first-hand experience. Adult literacy is an area of English that I teach both in Flint and at Highland Lakes. This is another type of poverty I am glad to say I can help eliminate. In the parish, you will see me working with Laurel and under her direction as well as that of Bishop Gibbs. Mine is a servant ministry. At the altar, I prepare and clean the table; I assist the Celebrant and the Eucharistic Ministers with the bread and the wine. My favorite diaconal duty is Proclaiming the Good News of Christ, and second to that is sending us all out into the world to love and serve God. There will be other things I am asked to do, and I look forward to each of them. My heart sings, and I am filled with Joy I am invited to be your servant. There is work we can and will do together as God reveals it to us. I give God thanks for this opportunity. Laurel is leading a study of St. Benedict during Lent, and one of the phrases that sticks in my mind is “We begin again,” and so we do. I love that God gives us more than one chance to do his work in the world, and each time, it appears to me, it is with a clean slate. Well, enough now, before I start preaching [something I will occasionally do, so you are forewarned]. I will close with a prayer that my youngest grand-daughter learned here at St. Mary’s, and I learned it from her. I offer it in closing: “Please, God, may all your children have enough to eat today.” Marlyn
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Sunday School We need your help: We are working on an outreach project to benefit The Oakland County Animal Shelter on Brown Road, one of our neighbors. They are in constant need of supplies. The children will be making fleece blankets, chew toys for dogs and pom-pom toys for cats. We will be collecting; dry and canned food, food dishes, rug squares or remnants, leashes, collars, litter, and toys. Please bring donations to church by May 5th. There will be a table in the Fellowship Hall to place your donations. The shelter will give a tour to our kids when we bring in our donations. Thank you for your support. We are in need of teachers who are willing to working with the children once a month. We are looking
for help this summer and in the fall. Please contact Cathy Flanders (248-860-0860, or email@example.com) if you are interested. As we gather each Sunday we begin with a simple, usually healthy snack. This allows for casual conversation and a brief introduction to the days lesson. We are asking that families sign up to bring the snack. Please sign up on the Sunday School Schedule posted on the bulletin board in the fellowship hall. Snacks should be ready to serve by 9:45 am. Thanks! If you have any questions regarding the Youth Education Commission please contact the Vestry Liaison Stacy Tines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nursery The Nursery is still in search of a few items for our littlest church members. Please consider donating baby wipes or sponge shapes for crafts. See our nursery teacher Janet Spears if you have any questions.
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Garden Invite The calendar says spring is here! This is the time of year that gardeners start dreaming about getting their hands dirty. St. Mary’s had a small, faithful group of women who maintained our glorious gardens last summer. Our first 2013 get-together will be Thursday morning, 11:00am, April 11th. This will be a mini work session to cut back the ornamental grasses and willows, and a season-planning potluck-luncheon in the Fellowship Hall. In the past we have met twice per month on Thursday mornings; we will post our selected work-dates for this summer in the Sunday announcements and on the website calendar. Our gardens at St. Mary’s are a joy to be in - we can accomplish so much in only a few hours with many hands. We welcome everyone – men and women - to play with us this year. We have a lot of fun! Submitted by Susan Suter
Coffee Hour We are going to try something a little different for the scheduling of Coffee Hour. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall for the month of May. Please consider what date will work the best for you or your group and sign up on the sheet. We are hoping that everyone will fill the dates. Otherwise we will have to contact people to fill the slots. Also, if you need to change dates, it will be your responsibility to find some-
one to cover your week or switch weeks with you. We are hoping that this will be successful and something that we can do moving forward. Please see Lisa McGeen with any questions or contact her at 248240-6178 or email@example.com. There are still a lot of openings for Coffee Hour for the 10 AM service. Please pick your dates soon so we do not have to make phone calls to fill these spots.
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Flower Arranging Fun
The Fellowship Committee will be sponsoring a Flower Arranging Class taught by Bob Masek on a date coming soon in the Fellowship Hall. Snacks and drinks will be provided by the Fellowship Committee. There will be a sign up list in the Fellowship Hall beginning in April. Please see the weekly announcements and Facebook for more details as we get closer to the event.
The Fellowship Committee will meet again on Tuesday, April 16th at 6:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall. Agenda items include planning for a flower arrangement class and a murder mystery event. We only have two meetings planned before a brief summer hiatus. We hope you can join us at one of these upcoming meetings.
Love INC Looking for Volunteers Do you have a nurturing attitude? Do you like to meet new people? Do you have the desire to give back to your community? If so, Love INC of North Oakland County needs you! We are looking for volunteers to serve in the following area: Intake workers, Receptionists, Event organizers, Fundraising committee, IT , Budget Counselors, and workers in our Clothes Closet and Household Ministries. Time required: 34 hrs./week. If you are feeling Godâ€™s call to help in any of these areas, please call the Clearinghouse at (248)693-4357 to register for our next Volunteer Orientation.
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Seeking Loving Host Families for Youth for Understanding Exchange Students Youth for Understanding (YFU) needs host families for some high school exchange students arriving this August for the 2013-14 school year. (Many of them are willing to attend their host family’s religious services as often as they do.) Some of the kids available include… Marlon from Germany who is nuts about basketball and other sports… Chiyuki from Japan, a candidate for marching band or orchestra with her skills at the horn, piano, and guitar… Julius from Finland, who is devoted to soccer, plus ice hockey and other sports (but needs a pet-free home)… Kira, a sporty German girl who loves soccer, volleyball and animals… Robert from Hungary, a Catholic boy who would love to join a swim team… Aino, a Finnish girl, who plays violin and piano and is in choir and orchestra, plus active in tennis, skiing, golf… Johann, a history buff from Germany who would love to continue soccer plus try some new sports… Pyry from Finland, also into soccer and ice hockey, plus hiking, fishing, and guitar… This is just a sampling of available students, and you can request more details about any of them. Many different kinds of families can host -- you don't need to have high school age kids -- just the ability to be a good parent for a high school student, and to open your heart to another child. Most students stay from August through June, though a few come for shorter times. We are seeking families who can agree to host, for at least 10-12 weeks or more. The students bring their own spending money and good health insurance and can share a room with a host sibling. Take a leap of faith! Share your home. Change the world. Host a YFU exchange student! For more information contact Barb Kilkka at 248-932-0811 or Kilkka@yfu.org You can also visit www.yfu-usa.org to fill out an online application.
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There’s an App for That Financial Stewardship
When we don’t sing the Doxology after the offertory, we usually pray, “All that we have comes from Thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given Thee.” Implicit in this prayer is gratitude. Here’s the rub: either we believe it, or we’re only going through motions. You could read Deut. 8:17-18. It says essentially the same thing, but much more forcefully.
We can’t know if this is a true interpretation, but I can tell you that it described me 40 years ago. I gave my parish a few bucks a week after I paid my bills and had my fun. A number of things combined to lead me to change that practice.
It’s a tough piece of meat. Conceptually we have no trouble crediting God for our skills, brains, even employment. But when we open that wallet or checkbook, it sure FEELS like it belongs to us. Leftovers In Genesis 4, both Cain and Abel make an offering to the Lord. Only Abel’s finds favor. The one scriptural difference is that Abel’s offering is described as “the firstlings of his flocks and the fat thereof.” According to The Legends of the Jews (ancient writings to amplify scripture), Cain ate his meal first and made his offering of the lefto-
First, after several years at the parish, I had made close friendships. It’s fair to say that I loved them like family. Second, I had become active and had held several positions of responsibility. I felt ownership. I cared about the wellbeing and ministries of the church. Third, while on the vestry, I chose to serve on the stewardship committee. I undertook a Biblical study of stewardship which left me compelled and committed to reach a status of tithing as quickly as I could--or as quickly as I thought I could. My memory is a tad hazy, but I think it took five years to reach my goal. Nothing really happened in those years to impede my progress. My daughters still took
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tap, jazz, ballet, and gymnastics classes. We still went on vacations. We continued our normal lives with no major obstacles. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken five years. There’s An App for That As part of my Biblical study of stewardship, I compiled a list of 26 chapters, 39 verses that dealt with tithing. (Don’t worry. I have no intention of hammering you with them.) These became constant reminders of where I stood as I presumed to lead the parish in stewardship. Memory is not hazy on this. It was humbling not to be tithing. Hypocrisy can never effectively lead. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. It’s called obedience, and it doesn’t require a smart phone. My five years of reaching the goal, like most excuses, amounted to nothing more that postponed obedience. Rev. Laurel spoke about obedience on Jan. 20, knowing it was not what we’d choose to hear over spiritual gifts. I’d bet that even sacrifice would have been more popular. We’ve all made sacrifices from time to time. But there’s a spiritual problem here: WE decide on the
sacrifice. Obedience is SOMEONE ELSE’s idea of sacrifice. Yet no one enforces the obedience of our stewardship. It remains a private matter between God and us. It is up to us to decide if this is, as Rev. Laurel describes it, “good obedience.” I found that it was. I know I have made it sound rather facile, but in all truth, I admit that it was a scary proposition. Would I deprive my family of deserved joys and come to regret the effort? What if my effort failed? Where would that leave me as a leader, as a man? Two things made the difference: first, my wife was as committed as I was, if not more so; second, I came to understand that with God, there is no failure, no score kept. One more detail completed this journey. I have always known that I have been richly blessed--not with money or power or fame, but with family, friends, faith, a career, and joy in the journey. As each of the five years passed on the way to the goal, my realization grew that it was not just obedience that kept me on track. My giving also became a response of profound gratitude for the life I enjoy. I do not think I
ST. MARY’S IN-THE-HILLS EPISCOPAL CHURCH 2512 Joslyn Ct. Lake Orion Mi. 48360 (248) 391-0663
have any more protection in life than others. But I am convinced that this attitude is able to sustain me as it did Paul, as we read in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” In whatever state I am, I have no doubt that I give only what is already God’s own.