by the Rev. Christopher Potter, Vicar
I’m in the middle of three things I do every year at this time having to do with my commitments and my worldview. Two of them have to do with money. Some contend all three do!
I am an avid listener and member of two radio stations. The first offers me news and entertainment, the other classical music. I contribute to the first because I value what they offer: a news source that purports unbiased reporting. In my mind, this station tells me the facts of what is happening rather than their opinion or prejudices. I value it so much that I contribute to them monthly because I want them to continue doing their job for me and for the world. The question of why I pay for what is essentially free comes down to doing what I hope every other person who values the service will do. I can’t expect others to contribute when I do not, regardless how much I value the service; so I contribute.
The classical station is important to me because I grew up listening to (and playing some of) the most beautiful classical music in the universe! Not only do I enjoy the music, I think it’s important to play so others might hear and develop the language of the soul. Though I own much of this music (I still have an enormous collection of cassette tapes), I find it anticlimactic to listen to music when I know which piece is coming up next. Much more appealing to me is to be surprised by a piece of music and to let memories and emotions flow. Again, it is important enough to me that this station continue, so I contribute financially.
This is also the time I review my commitment to the work of the Gospel. Sure, my professional life is centered around the Gospel of Jesus, but I know that I cannot do alone what a community bound together can do. What we do – care for the poor, feed the hungry, liberate captives, and celebrate our work – brings us closer together as faithful people and takes us further along toward the fullness of God’s promised reign. What value do I place on these outcomes? How much of my time, experience, and wealth should I contribute? The answers come from the same place my commitment to the radio stations come – and more.
We belong to a church that works hard (we are not perfect) to present the message of Jesus without bias. The Gospel is calling The Episcopal Church to unbiased authenticity now while simultaneously making peace with our past. This framework gets my respect and my money for three reasons:
1. I believe that the church is the only institution or agency in the world that has a real chance at healing the world of its divisions, its alienation, its destructive heading.
2. I believe in the first point so much that I will do all I can to be certain the church is here and viable after I am gone. Like my radio membership, if my church contribution behavior is repeated by everyone, what would result?
3. I am easily persuaded to part with my time, wisdom, and treasure for good music!
The third activity calling me to reconsider my values is the sacred task of voting. I submitted my ballot this week after hours (I’m not kidding) of research into the propositions and listening/reading about the personalities running for office. Voting is a sacred task because it asks us to contrast our spiritual and religious beliefs against the people and issues at hand. Voting requires a clarity of mind and heart about important values, like justice. Then, in prayer, I set about to discover who and what issues are closest to these values. I am reminded of Bruce Waltke’s (talking about the Book of Proverbs) definition of justice: “The righteous work for the good of the community, the wicked work for their own glory and gain.” Christians cannot vote with the objective of choosing what’s best for ME. Instead, we are tasked to consider what is good and best for the community overall and make our choices from that.
As Christians, we honor the sacred duty of voting by participating in it fully. As Episcopalians, we bring our values and our history to the bear – not letting them become idols, but rather guideposts to our moral and civic future.
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We’ll see you at St. John’s this weekend:
• Saturday worship at 5 p.m. in the Chapel; potluck following on the Learning Commons courtyard
• Sunday Holy Eucharist and worship at 8 a.m. (in-person only); and at 10 a.m., in-person and on ZOOM
• Nursery care beginning at 8 a.m.
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Sunday is Trunk or Treat! October 30, 4 – 6 p.m. Everything is free and everyone is welcome! Candy, games, fun costumes! (remember, nothing scary as lots of little ones on campus!)
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Our Thanksgiving Food Drive Is On!
The shopping list is on the Narthex counter, or you can print / view your own copy here. Bring your donations when you come to Church Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings. Last day to collect is Sunday, November 13. If you can help out with preparing and loading bags at St. John’s Saturday, November 12 from 2-5 p.m. and/or Sunday, November 13 after church until we are done or help out with food distribution at Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church, Wednesday, November 16, contact Roger Bradshaw or at 949.505.4663.
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Congratulations, Alexis Unter!
Thirty-one swimmers from the USA Down Syndrome Swimming organization, along with the USA National Team coaches, came together in Portugal recently from all across the U.S. to compete in the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organization World Championships. St. John’s Unter family traveled to Portugal to cheer on their daughter, Alexis, in the competition. Alexis, a St. John’s acolyte, was named to the team a few months ago. Alexis and her teammates came in fifth place in team points among 23 countries and the U.S. team captured 20 medals. This is the best the USA team has ever done! Alexis recorded personal records in five of her six events and loved every moment of the competition, cheered for her team and made many new friends! The World Championships are run as a high level meet with high expectations for the athletes to compete independently, without help from coaches or officials. All of these athletes shined on the world stage! Her parents, David and Megan, said, “It was so fun to watch; so fun to be a part of; and so fun to witness the athlete’s pride after so much training to prepare for this meet! Thank you to everyone for your support of Alexis and the USA team!”
Photo L-R: Alexis Unter; Tyler Unter [brother]; David Unter [dad]; Megan Unter [mom]; Bailey Unter [sister]
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Sunday’s 9 a.m. Adult Forum is Back — Please Join us in the Learning Commons!
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We’ll see you at St. John’s!