These are such trying times. Fr. Richard Rohr, a beloved living Christian theologian and spiritual leader, wrote a compelling letter that came out today. I want to share some of it with you (this is an edited version) since it is so clear this came from his big heart with great urgency. If you’d like to explore his website or subscribe to his newsletter: https://cac.org/about-cac/
I hope you are supported by his wisdom.
Love and Grace to You,
Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months.
I awoke on Saturday, September 19, with sources in my mind for guidance: Etty Hillesum (1914 – 1943), the young Jewish woman who suffered much more injustice in the concentration camp than we are suffering now; and Psalm 62, which must have been written in a time of a major oppression of the Jewish people…
Read each one slowly as your first practice. Let us begin with Etty:
There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too … And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.
—Etty Hillesum, Westerbork transit camp
Note her second-person usage, talking to “You, God” quite directly and personally. There is a Presence with her, even as she is surrounded by so much suffering.
Then, the perennial classic wisdom of the Psalms:
In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.
What could it mean to find rest like this in a world such as ours? Every day more and more people are facing the catastrophe of extreme weather. The neurotic news cycle is increasingly driven by words and deeds that incite hatred, sow discord, and amplify the daily chaos. The pandemic that seems to be returning in waves continues to wreak suffering and disorder with no end in sight, and there is no guarantee of the future in an economy designed to protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and those subsisting at the margins of society.
It’s no wonder the mental and emotional health among a large portion of the American population is in tangible decline! …We now recognize we are living with the catastrophic results of several centuries of what philosophers call nihilism or post-modernism (nothing means anything, there are no universal patterns) …
Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.
God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb…
If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place.
Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above.
You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all.
And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose.
And everything to gain.
Richard Rohr, September 19, 2020
Consider joining St. Andrew as a Member!
New Member Inquiry Meeting – Sunday, Oct. 4 at 11:00 am by Zoom
You are invited to attend a member’s inquiry meeting with Pastor Jan and St. Andrew Session members. If you are interested and can’t make this meeting, please let Pastor Jan know!
This is a wonderful time to show your commitment to St. Andrew. When you are a member, you may soon vote to elect your new pastor!
Membership at St. Andrew and in the Presbyterian Church is being commissioned and blessed to grow in your relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and to engage in an authentic life of ministry with your own unique gifts. Yes, we are all ministers, discovering our vocation in serving God and making this world better, together.
Email the church office to rsvp to the inquiry meeting or if you need further information
PEDAL FOR PROTEIN:
Greetings St. Andrew Riders,
We hope you’ve been busy enjoying the fresh air and riding your bike (road, mountain, or stationary!) for “Homespin” (Pedal for Protein) this week (Sept 21-26). We are dedicating this congregational ride to the memory of the master rider: Pastor Rich Gantenbein.
Pedal for Protein is a fundraiser which collects money for purchase of protein based foods for Northern California food banks. The economic fall out of Covid-19 has created unprecedented demand at all food banks. Food banks are always chronically short of protein. This fundraiser helps provide balanced food for our neediest neighbors.
We sincerely hope you will step up and ride your bike and/or pledge to donate in any amount to this important fundraiser.
One of our St. Andrew families has generously offered to match all Pedal for Protein donations! Additionally, we have one family who has offered a per mile pledge: Be sure to send your cumulative miles from this week to Dave Haflich via the church office at [email protected]
To make a donation of any amount, Follow this link to donate electronically to Pedal for Protein:
Or, mail a check to St. Andrew, or drop your envelope into our mail box: 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476. Please write “P4P” on the memo line of your donation check.
SMALL GROUP OPPORTUNITY:
“God Talk” with Pastor Jan
Tuesdays, Sept. 22, 29, Oct. 6, 13, 5:00-6:15 pm
Jan will provide some starting off points as food for thought each week, and then we will have a conversation speaking aloud our own thoughts and experiencing, and hearing what others have to say.
Here are our four areas of exploration:
Creation & Providence – How do we conceive of God in relationship to the world and its creation? What kind of God are we dealing with? How/what does God provide for us?
God’s Revelation – How does God reveal Godself to you? How and why?
Faces of God – How do we think of and encounter the various attributes of God, such as “Creator, Jesus and Holy Spirit”? Do you relate to one more than the other and why? What other “faces of God” do you relate to?
Humanity and Hope – Why is there human suffering? Who are we in relationship to God? What is the purpose of humanity?
There is still room for more to join us. If you would like to join this group, please email the church office with your interest and you will be sent a link to join the meeting.
Please continue your giving during this time, so that St. Andrew may continue to serve our local community and our membership. We recognize that some of you have been impacted financially by economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of you who can, please continue to give on a regular basis.
There are several options available:
- Give electronically to the St. Andrew General Fund
- Set up your donation to St. Andrew to be paid through your bill paying service at your personal bank.
- Mail a check to St. Andrew, or drop your envelope into our locked mail box: 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
If you would like to receive emails from St. Andrew with current information about our Virtual Services and links to Virtual Meetings click below