Luncheon gathering for younger Adults is this Sunday!

Are you younger? Are you an adult? Then join Jessica Richards and Zach Tanaid and parish friends in Puddicombe Hall (downstairs) after the 10:00 service for a tasty lunch and great conversation. The cost is only $10. Fun and fellowship for the price of two lattes!

Questions? Contact Jessica or Zach.

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Rev. Meghan says farewell

We will begin 2019 by blessing our Curate, the Reverend Meghan Mullarkey, as she goes to St. Columba’s, Kent to serve as Associate Priest. Meghan’s year and a half with us brought many blessings, and we are very thankful for her curacy. Her last Sunday with us will be January 13.

Rev. Meghan reflects on her time at St. Andrew’s:

Leaving and transition are never easy, but are of course inevitable and a part of life. We change and grow and with that come new opportunities, new leaderships, and new ways of being in the world. Just as my arrival brought disruption in the way things usually go at St. Andrew’s so will my leaving. I hope that this will be a time to continue to reflect on the community of St. Andrew’s and your role in it. There are two newer gatherings at St. Andrew’s that I want you to pay particular attention to as I depart. Our family and friends game night and our younger adult gatherings.

Liz Herriges and Colin McDaniel will continue to support family and friends game night. I encourage you to attend, find ways to support Liz and Colin in this endeavor and invest in our young families. These gatherings are wonderful opportunities to get to know one another and include our children in our fellowship!

Jessica Richards and Zach Tanaid have agreed to take on the leadership of gathering our younger adults. This is another area that I hope you will consider supporting, whatever age you are. Reach out to Jessica and Zach and see how you can support them. No matter your age we are one community and need to continue to figure out how to stay connected and show our care and support for one another.

There are two other areas I want to draw your attention to as spaces where you could be more involved or bring some of your own input and that is Adult Education and Small Groups. If you are seeking deeper community or deeper spiritual growth these are two places where you could go deeper. I will no longer be here to structure and facilitate small groups, but if you have an idea for a small group or want to try and gather a group of people to meet weekly there is now some structure and institutional knowledge for that to happen at St. Andrew’s. If you are interested in leading a group please discuss further with Father Martin.

I hope that my coming and my leaving has allowed for the community of St. Andrew’s to reflect on how you want to be the church. To understand further different ways that you can welcome and support people who walk through those red doors. And all the ways that you can go out in the world to not only bring the light of Christ, but to find the light of Christ. Many prayers and blessings to the St. Andrew’s community as you continue to know Christ and to make Christ known. I will miss this place and all the people who make St. Andrew’s such a special place!

From  columns by
Fr . Martin and Rev. Meghan
in the January Tartan

Youth Group active through Advent and Christmas

This last month found our Youth Group busy with both community support and Diocesan Youth activities.

We again supported the Salvation Army by gift wrapping at the mall with a combined volunteer time of over 25 hours! Way to go youth members! We also helped with gift wrapping at Skyline Elementary. The donated gifts were wrapped for Santa to deliver. The local fire department escorted Santa with his gifts to deliver them to the children and their families at an evening event.

Thank you to St. Columba’s for hosting the Advent Party for the youth. Many games were played but teams competing to create the best ‘Christmas tree’ was a fun way to get to know others. Kyle and his team won! In another game Annah was Santa going through a maze (fog) while Rudolph (Zach) had to guide her though – she of course made it. Our next Diocesan even will be held late winter/early spring in Puyallup, so more information later on this.

For January, the Youth will be holding a toy drive. New toys will be accepted, but really we are looking for the used ones. The used toys we gather will go to the Toy Rescue Mission to help replenish their shelves. All used toys donated are sorted, cleaned and packaged for gift giving. Not only does the Toy rescue mission give out toys for Christmas, they offer for birthdays and Easter too. It’s a wonderful program to support children ages birth to 15 and seniors. The Toy Drive will run from Jan 6 to Jan 27. If you would like more information about the toy Rescue Mission check out their web site https://www.toyrescuemission.org.

 

The Hidden Meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas

For Episcopalians, the celebration of our Savior’s birth is a celebration of the hope that Christ’s incarnation brings to all of us, and the celebration actually lasts until sundown of the Feast of Epiphany on January 6.

These twelve days, known as Christmastide, are rarely observed in any formal sense, but their significance is preserved in the English carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, which counts down the days from “Twelve Drummers Drumming” to “A Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

Here are the hidden meanings of this song, as explained by Fr. Rod Caulkins of St. Peter’s Episcopal in Port Royal, Virginia:

You might be interested to know the origin of the familiar “secular” holiday song; it has roots as a teaching tool to instruct young people in England in the content of the Christian faith! From 1558 to 1829, Roman Catholics were not able to practice their faith openly in  Protestant England, so they devised ways of passing on their beliefs to their children. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is one example of how they did it. Each of the gifts mentioned represents something of religious significance:

1. On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:  The “true love ” represents God, and the “me” is the believer who receives the gifts.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ who died on a “tree” as a gift from God.

2.Two turtle doves are the Old and the New Testaments – another gift from God.

3.The three French hens are faith, hope, and love –the three gifts of the Spirit that abide. (I Corinthians 13)

4.The four colley* birds are the four gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ. (Although most modern versions say “ calling ” birds, the proper word is “ colley,” which is a type of blackbird common in England.)

5. The five gold rings are the first five books of the Bible, also called the “Books of Moses” or the “Pentateuch”.

6. The six geese-a-laying are the six days of creation. (On the seventh day, God rested.)

7.The seven swans–a–swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:8-10)

8.The eight maids–a –milking are the beatitudes. (There appear to be Nine in Matthew 5: 3 -11, but the first eight are the ones directed at others; the ninth refers only to Jesus’ listeners on the mountain.)

9. The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5: 22 -23)

10. The ten lords–a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

11. The eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful disciples.

12. The twelve drummers drumming are the twelve major points of the Apostles’ Creed.

So the next time you hear “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, consider how this otherwise secular sounding song was a tool to instruct the young. Remember, it’s still Christmas for 12 days . . . until the Feast of the Epiphany!

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Important takeaways from the Bishop’s Conference on Leadership

We were honored to attend the Bishop’s Leadership Conference, “Size to Size, Strength to Strength,”  at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.

Linda Brice reports:  There were over 500 people rotating through the week-long conference, each church staying for two days. It was a joy to meet people from around the diocese and hear about various exciting programs they have as well as being able to share what St. Andrew’s is doing.

I attended several workshops including:

  • Developing a Spiritual Culture in Your Congregation Going Big by Staying Small
  • How to start a Small Group Ministry
  • Local Church: High Impact: Connection + Community

Two of the workshops: Developing a Spiritual Culture (DSC) and Local Church: High Impact were most informative for me.

The presenter in (DSC) likened church to a gym—albeit a holy gym. You go to the gym on a regular basis to strengthen your body and practice over and over the exercises that will improve your health and make you strong. The church is like that: you go to church to learn what practices/disciplines will strengthen your life in Christ, and then you go home and follow those spiritual disciplines to strengthen your spiritual body.

In the Local Church workshop we learned that if we want to make an impact in our local community we need to find out what the community needs and then plan accordingly. To learn about our community attending a community organization (like West Slope Neighborhood Coalition) or talk to librarians. Both of those sources are good ways to find out what your community needs.

Kristina Younger reports:

If you ever have a chance to attend a Diocesan training conference – take it. Diocesan conferences are always well run with good subjects, many that can be transferred to other organizations where you are active. It is also interesting to learn what other churches are facing in the various parishes throughout western Washington.

I attended sessions on “right-sizing one’s church,”  on marketing a church/non-profit, and on stewardship.

In regards to size, there is not a “right” or “wrong” size for a church. It is much like a musical group. A duet can make great music as well as a large orchestra; conversely, they both can also create bad music (I have attended school band concerts). Churches are much the same – a small church can function well and do great things and a large church can, too. However, they are very different. For example, in a large church, communication can be difficult and no one person knows everyone; while in a smaller church people often know most of all the parishioners.

This was the first time this type of conference was held in our diocese, and we hope, if it is offered again, more people will take advantage of this wonderful experience.

The precious gift of your time and talent

The story of the sisters Mary and Martha from the gospel of Luke has always resonated with me. In this story, Martha, busy with all the work of feeding and entertaining a house full of guests, grew annoyed at her sister, Mary, who, rather than helping, sat at Jesus’ feet, listening raptly to Jesus’ words.

Some years ago, I was happy to attend Sunday services and simply let the beautiful liturgy wash over me. In a large church, too, it was easy to slip in and out fairly anonymously and without many involvements beyond attending services. I happily labeled myself as one of the contemplative Mary category. In one of Father Martin’s past sermons,after mentioning that we need both Marthas and Marys in the church, he asked for a raise of hands of those who identified as Marthas and those who identified as Marys. When over two thirds of our congregation raised their hands to identify as Marthas, I recognized that this was what made St. Andrew’s such a robustly warm and welcoming place. And perhaps a step above the Biblical Martha, these Marthas are not just active in service, but believe in service with a higher purpose. For those who by nature lean towards the Mary side of the spectrum, it can be beneficial to be around a lot of Marthas and get a nudge to move from the edges to the center, and find a Christian life that is even richer than previously imagined. After all, Mary was at the feet of Jesus, not observing from a corner.

Whether you are by nature a Mary or a Martha, a newcomer, or long-term member, there are plentiful opportunities to get involved at St. Andrew’s. A few ministries where helping hands would currently be welcome be welcome include Altar Guild, Building and Grounds, Finance, help with coffee hour, Sunday School, and also the Vestry. The approaching new year might be the perfect time to get involved in something new.

For years, I thought that the Vestry must be something like an altar guild, since Vestry does look like the word vestment. I eventually learned that the Vestry is a team of parishioners who work alongside the rector to oversee a variety of matters of the parish.I’ve enjoyed being part of the Vestry for the opportunity to better know so many members, and I’ve gained an appreciation for the behind-the-scenes efforts and attention to detail of many parishioners for the services and activities that take place each week.

In our Vestry, we are looking at the upcoming year and making decisions about where to focus our time, talent, and resources. Sometimes the path forward is not the simplest or safest, but the path on which we move forward with faith in a higher purpose.

The members of the Vestry look forward to meeting with everyone at our next annual meeting as we discuss and discern together, and walk forward in faith.

When the “Season of Joy” is a time of sorrow

If you asked me what my favorite holiday or time of year is, chances are I will say Christmas. And it’s true that I do love it, though there have been years when that wasn’t the case. Perhaps it’s my favorite partly because some years I struggle with finding my love for it. Sometimes I find myself drawn into discontentment, wishing my life was more magical, like the films we watch this time of year. Sometimes the traditions seem dry and repetitive and I grapple to connect with the deeper meaning. Sometimes the messages of cheer and joy seem almost aggressive in wanting me to feel a way that I do not; sometimes my heart is heavy and I am grieving. While we would all probably like to say that Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year,” the truth is, it can also be a very hard time of year for people.

Several years ago, I discovered that some churches hold what is often called a“Blue Christmas” service (or sometimes a “Longest Night” service on winter solstice).The purpose of such a service is to create space for those who are grieving in the midst of all the joyousness. Such a thing might seem better suited to a season like Lent; it might sound strange during a season where we continually wish for each other to be merry, jolly, and happy. Even in church we encourage each other to rejoice, particularly in song. A service like this provides a place for heavy-hearted people to acknowledge their sorrow and be met there, in order to move closer to the joy.

Whether or not such a service is available, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone is in a place to receive tidings of joy—which is why we can start instead with tidings of comfort. The idea of comfort in times of sadness is not separate from the season of Christmas, nor indeed separate from the very message of scripture. It is woven into the very story itself; the theme of our grief being heard by God, Him meeting us there, and us rejoicing in response can be found throughout the Bible. It is in the Christmas story, too: Jesus’ birth was a long-awaited answer to many grieving prayers, and it is the story of God becoming one of us in order to be among us.

So if you’re struggling with how you feel this season, it’s okay. Take heart. Don’t bottle it up, don’t try to fake it, and don’t give up. Create space to let yourself grieve and let yourself feel whatever is on your heart. And then: remember that Christmas is about the arrival of Emmanuel—God with us. The savior that came into the world to be with us is one who knows grieving, knows pain, knows struggle. He will sit with you inthis season, even if you don’t feel merry.

Following the Way of Love through Advent

In December we will live into the season of Advent as a church community. Advent holds a lot of meaning for me and is a season that I look forward to arriving every year. Advent teaches us about waiting and preparing all the while calling us to be present to the moment. Advent means coming, and it is a time that we hope for the coming of Christ – both for his birth at Christmas and for his second coming when he will make all things right. In the meantime we wait, we prepare, and we stay present to the light that overcomes the darkness.

During the month of Advent I will be facilitating a conversation after BOTH services around the season of Advent using the Gospel of Luke and the Way of Love as it is incorporated into the Advent calendars that St. Andrew’s will provide. This will be a casual time to meet and discuss how as a community we are discovering the spiritual depth that Advent has to offer. It will be a time to encourage one another and give one another ideas about how this season can speak into our lives and how we can discover God within it.

Come to share, come to learn, or just come to hear about how others have been impacted by the season of Advent!