The Vicar’s Corner: Opportunity Knocks, Will You Answer?

The Choir of St Nicholas, 2013

The choir is hard at work preparing, training and rehearsing. Their gift of music and song uplifts our Sunday Liturgy…for we are encouraged to “sing and dance before the tabernacle.” Soon, they will be releasing another CD for our listening and sharing pleasure and just in time for the holiday season.

Our Saturday Liturgy has a three-speared effort of music with Mary, Hal and Tony all taking one Saturday each month with a “said liturgy” filling out the Saturday calendar. These dedicated musicians, along with each member of the choir all give so much of themselves to help beautify and make more glorious our worship and celebration of our Christian faith and Episcopal identity. Our choir members, along with Hal and Tony willingly and gratefully volunteer their time and talents to make St. Nicholas such a welcoming, joyful place to worship. And we are all grateful and humbled by their efforts and shared talents.

Brandon Garcia

Brandon continues to prepare the worship programs we all use. He does an amazing job considering he is a full-time high school senior, athlete, choir member and not to mention the chores for which he is responsible at home. Yet, he finds and makes time to volunteer and prepare the program for our use. Soon, we hope to have a couple more members of the community learn how to share in this ministry.

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Hal serves as our Verger…a position for which he studied and prepared. He gives this ministry serious time, effort and cost as he gives back to St. Nicholas as St. Nicholas gives back to him.

Pat Kalicki, Douglas VanHouten, and Robert DeHaven share a laugh

Members of the Bishop’s Committee, the Building Committee, the Liturgy Team, Children’s and Youth Formation, Food Pantry Team…all give of themselves, with a spirit of willingness while generously sharing of their gifts so others can be blessed and rewarded.

HandMadeBread

People who volunteer to make coffee, to bake bread, to clean the facility, to mow the lawns, to tend to the gardens, who pull out and cut down shrubs and bushes…each and every one of these beautiful people do so because they care. It is with the same joyful dedication our sisters and brothers share in the reading of the lessons and the sharing of the Cup at our liturgies. Tom Smith and Pat Kalicki bring Jesus to our home-bound members…Jesus travels well and He loves to visit and be with us!

Donations of supplies help St Nicholas devote resources to other ministries

So many of our parish family share their treasures with the church, too. Pledging, open plate offerings and making visits to the Giving Tree…all this goes so very far in securing our present day and future endeavors. These gifts are essential, are necessary and are what keep our doors open, lights on and music playing. No one likes to “talk money,” but we do in casual and simple style because we must do so. Without the financial assistance, we we fade away…we cease to exist. And this, my friends, simply is not part of our plan…this is not in the equation. No sir. No ma’am. We do all this and more because we care…because we love this place…because this is what we are commissioned to do as Christians and members of a faith community.

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My friends, there are so many opportunities to be part of this church. Physical presence is a fine start and trust me, I love seeing everyone! Our church is so much more beautiful when we are in there…singing, worshiping, greeting one another at the Sign of Peace, opening our hands and hearts as we say ‘Amen…Yes I believe.’ Yet, there is more we can do. Think of a ministry in which we may wish to be more engaged…choir, baking bread, teaching our children, reading the lessons, preparing the worship programs, cleaning and caring for the facility, volunteering at the food pantry the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, preparing Coffee Hour on Sundays…you name it, the opportunity is there. Lastly, I ask us all to consider strongly and sincerely the requests that lay before us in the annual Stewardship Drive and the Capital Campaign. Help us keep St. Nicholas moving forward and onward…sustaining and securing a bright, beautiful and bountiful future for us all.

Amen…Yes I believe!

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Clergy Corner: The Transformative Powers and Riches of Easter

2nd Sunday of Lent, Feb. 24, 2013. St. Nicholas. C Cycle.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18,
Psalm 27
,
Philippians 3:17-4:1,
Luke 13:31-35

Trust in God First, Foremost and Always

I knew a woman who was a frequent guest at the soup kitchen I used to run down in the city. This woman had 5 children, which is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, and sadly, these children had different fathers. It was unfortunate because the fathers were not in the children’s lives. These ‘dads’ had little to no contact with their or their mother anymore. These kids were all young, under the age of 10 when I first met them, and this was some 19 years ago. This woman was a good Mom: she did what she could to help her children. Coming to the soup kitchen was necessary: she just could not provide for them alone and the soup kitchen was able to assist her with feeding her children. She made good use of the Case Management Department, too, as well as the clothing and laundry services that were provided. I looked forward to seeing her and she was, as I said, a regular attendee, virtually every night.

Let us allow this holy season of Lent willingly move forward toward the transformative powers and riches of Easter. We venture onward, with open hearts and receptive minds… wishing to know more of our Lord and desiring for ever more grace, strength and peace to fill and overflow our senses and bodies.

She had a very difficult job to say the least. Parenthood is the most demanding of careers. It is tough enough for two parents, but one parent managing and handling 5 children while marred in a life of poverty, barely making it; living in a neighborhood that is riddled with crime and violence? One parent, with five energetic youngsters all under the age of 10 and one of which was a mere baby in a stroller…Dear God…

I’m not a parent, I readily admit to this. However, I saw and was witness and was the beneficiary of how much work, sacrifice and energy my two beloved parents put forth to care, protect and educate my 8 brothers and sisters and I. I would like to think they did a good job and I am ever grateful and humbled for their uncompromising and unquestioned love. Yet this woman, this single parent…she seemingly had the world on her shoulders and each day, the ground appeared to be getting closer and closer as she stooped lower and lower under the pressures and burdens of doing all she could to care for her children.

My heart ached for this women. In the summer months, I would take my lunch break by taking long walks…to clear my head, to pray silently and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I would see the woman walking around the neighborhoods near the soup kitchen, trying feverishly to keep track of where the kids were running off to. She’d call for them to stay close and they’d eventually come and walk with her. She would take them to the park and they’d play on the swings and such…until they became bored and demanded more of her. She looked defeated most days, yet she was undeterred and undaunted in her desire to provide, care and protect her children. Her situation provoked me to do more for people like her… people who had the deck stacked up against them. I opened the door of the soup kitchen at noon for people to come in, have coffee, play board games with the volunteer staff and just relax until dinner time…all in a safe and clean environment…and most importantly, these beautiful people knew they were surrounded and cared for by folks who truly and genuinely loved them.

This woman, this single parent, desperately tried to keep her children under her protective and loving care. Try as she did, in the years to come, her two sons spent considerable time behind bars for a number of offenses. The girls were unattended and poorly chaperoned and subsequently became subject to the advances of older men. I need not elaborate this point, for sadly we know what came next…

She tried and desired to keep her children under her protective wings, but they rebelled and chose otherwise. She knew better and she loved them so. Yet, they chose differently. Jesus tried, in vain, to shelter the people of Jerusalem, to protect His very people from the evils and destruction that sin creates. Sadly, the people of Jerusalem thought differently and did as they wished. They stoned and killed the prophets and anyone who spoke with authority from above. Jesus’ heart ached for His people.

He longed to care for them, just as in today’s passage from St. Luke we heard: “how often I desired to gather your children together, like a hen trying to gather her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Jesus wasn’t afforded this role while in Jerusalem, was He? Jesus lamented over the apathy and ignorance of His own people in His beautiful yet lost Jerusalem. He truly did not have anyone in whom He could trust….no one except God, His father, the Creator.

The Pharisees warned Him that Herod wanted Him dead…but Jesus didn’t trust these guys in any way, shape or form. They had an agenda, these Pharisees. They wanted Jesus out of the picture and they knew if they were unable to rid themselves of Jesus, Herod would find a way. Fact is, Jesus didn’t even like the Pharisees…He called them a “brood of vipers.” Jesus wasn’t too fond of Herod for that matter, too. He, Herod was viewed as weak and a ‘mere puppet for the Roman authorities.”

Jesus couldn’t trust the Pharisees and He couldn’t trust Herod. His disciples…well, they had flaws and shortcomings and Jesus knew this when He chose them. When Jesus needed them most…sadly, they disappointed and let Him down. Ultimately, as we know, the disciples showed their true worth and strength; wearing the crown of the martyrs as they gave their lives for the Kingdom!

There are times we all feel like we are alone; that there is no one really listening to us. I certainly have those moments. I know I’m wrong thinking like this. (For goodness sake’s I have Douglas who I know cares for me and I have my sisters and brothers and a slew full of nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grandnephews who love and care for me and I have this amazing and wonderful community of St. Nicholas, who show me, daily, how much you all care.)

Yet, when we are in pain or when sorrow overwhelms us or suffering invades our very fibre, even the ones who love us most may not be enough. Sadly, pain and doubt overpower us and blinds us to the reality that WE DO INDEED HAVE SOME ONE WE CAN ALWAYS TRUST…AND THAT IS JESUS, OUR MOST HOLY REDEEMER.

IT IS JESUS WHO NEVER LETS US DOWN
IT IS JESUS WHO ALWAYS HAS OUR BACK
IT IS JESUS WHO NEVER FORGETS NOR OVERLOOKS US…ESPECIALLY WHEN WE FEEL EVERYONE ELSE HAS

St. Paul implored the people of Philippi to “STAND FIRM IN THE LORD, BECAUSE THE LORD WILL TRANSFORM US…FROM HUMILIATION TO GLORY…” Likewise, we, too, must allow the Spirit to transform us…to take us from those moments of doubt and fear, those times when pain and sorrow and suffering seem insurmountable and allow the glorious, healing powers of Jesus transform us…from HUMILIATION that is sin and suffering, to GLORY…that is found fully and solely in Jesus the Christ.

Let us allow this holy season of Lent willingly move forward toward the transformative powers and riches of Easter. We venture onward, with open hearts and receptive minds… wishing to know more of our Lord and desiring for ever more grace, strength and peace to fill and overflow our senses and bodies.

Let Jesus take us under His protective and loving wings…He is already beside us…He is already before us, leading us onward…He is ever within us to comfort and sustain us…so let’s put our full trust and faith in Him and always Him and forever in Him as we continue to place a fuller and richer faith in one another…shall we?

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny