Federal Employees, Contractors and Families Appreciation Spaghetti Dinner

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
St. James Lutheran Church
1104 NE Vivion Road
Kansas City, MO

Join us at St. James Lutheran Church for a spaghetti dinner to show our community’s support for public servants. There are no ticket fees though we ask that you please RSVP so that we know how many people intend on attending.

Cash or check donations will be accepted on behalf of and donated to the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (feea.org).

St. James Lutheran Church shares a campus with Metro Lutheran Ministry of Kansas City (mlmkc.org). MLM has opened their pantry to federal employees on THURSDAYS from 1:30 – 3:00 pm for a special shopping session. Bring your government ID.


Please RSVP by clicking the “Going” checkmark. Adjust the number of people in your party. Enter your name and email address. The click the “Submit RSVP” button.

RSVP
RSVPs are no longer available

Trunk-or-Treat

St. James’ Trunk-or-Treat is a safe & fun trick-or-treating experience for kids. Our event takes place in our west parking lot where kids go car-to-car to get their treats.

This year we will have a food truck, crafts and crossing guard.  Why do we need a crossing guard?  Because our friends at Hillside Christian next door are having a trunk or treat, too!  That’s right… this is a 2-for-1 event!  Join St. James from 3-4:30 and head to Hillside across the street from 4-7 pm!

St. James’ Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2234100306819249/
Hillside’s Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/582666805483894/

 

“Sparrows and Sparring” Matthew 10:24-39

 

I am a big fan of Chef Jacques Pepin.  You may remember him from some memorable cooking shows on PBS with an elderly Julia Child, or from his cooking shows about “fast food my way” where he would show people how quickly and easily a really good meal could be prepared with just simple ingredients you might already have on hand.

Lately though, his passion seems to be showing you what to do with leftovers as he hates to see anything go to waste.

That approach really appeals to me because I learned to cook from my mother who rarely if at ever just warmed up leftovers.  She always viewed them as a challenge to create something new and interesting.

So I find it fascinating to watch Jacques Pepin reach into his refrigerator and pull out a bit of this, a little of that, and then to create something completely different out of the bits and pieces that would otherwise have been thrown away.

“Here’s a little potato, some vegetables, a piece of chicken and some sausage, and so today I am going to show you how to make a tasty soup….”  Jacques would say, and then go to work, fearlessly throwing together things that would not at first seem to go together at all.

You have to admire his boldness in the kitchen!

Sometimes reading this part of Matthew’s Gospel feels a little bit like that.  It feels like you are perusing the leftovers of sayings of Jesus to see what you have to work with here.

Here we have a saying about slaves and masters, a reference to when the Pharisees accused Jesus of being able to do his miracles in Beelzebub’s name, some assurances about not fearing, a little story about sparrows, some teaching about parents and children not sharing the same ideas… let me show you how to blend all these left-over sayings of Jesus together into a new idea.

The preacher is faced with either pulling apart all these pieces presented to see where they may have come from and how they might be connected.

Or, the preacher can choose to focus on just one of the pithy thoughts or themes and spending some time in that.

I’m choosing a third option, inspired by Jacques Pepin.   Let’s take a couple of things that pair well together and spend a little time with them, so see what we can make of them, shall we?

I’m choosing the bits about Sparrows and Sparring.

There is a theme of contention in this collection of sayings.   The relationship of slave to master is a contentious one, fraught with expectations and friction, demands and assumptions.

No slave serves willingly, no matter what the appearances.  The differential of power is felt and acknowledged.

It is not an equal yoke or pairing.

There is contention and strife built into the relationship of family dynamics, aren’t there?  We know this to be true.

That is not to say that nobody ever gets along, but it is more a matter of knowing how best to get under one another’s skin, what buttons to push on the other.

You can’t, after all, put two siblings in car seats next to each other without discovering how contention and competition within families works.

“He touched me!

“She’s looking at me!”

We as human beings find ways to naturally spar with one another.  We vie for control and for dominance.

We do have differences of opinion!  When the stakes are really high we will employ outright nastiness to achieve our desired ends, or to convince people of our rightness, and will even jeopardize relationship in order to simply “win.”

This portion of Matthew’s Gospel with these sayings acknowledges the truth of that.

The way Jesus has been treated by the Pharisees and by others in power and authority is an indicator of how things will be for those who follow Jesus.

Those who follow Jesus and who try to engage in the same teaching or activity they have heard from him can expect to encounter the same kind of resistance.

They can expect to be the recipients of the same kind of arguments and attitudes.

If they called Jesus Beelzebub, (the devil,) then imagine what they are going to call his followers!

If families are already aware of their vulnerabilities, (how best to get at each other) then imagine how tense and strained relationships will get when disagreements about felt beliefs and convictions enter into the mix!

Jesus questions long held traditions and families are quite frankly, the keepers of tradition!

There is bound to be strife and arguments and tensions when Jesus’ teachings and sayings bump up against what Mom or Dad or Grandpa used to say all the time.

Whenever you bring into question long held understandings and beliefs, there will be sparring.

When you find yourself embroiled in controversy, advocating for a belief that no one else seems to share, or desperately trying to explain your point of view, you can feel pretty — well vulnerable and alone!

Sparring with someone, putting out a viewpoint that is different from the one held by those around you can make you feel pretty powerless, pretty dismissed, pretty much of little value.

We’ve felt that lately.

These are contentious times and no matter where you are on the issues of Black Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter, or Blue Lives Matter, or Defund the Police, or Justice for All, or Justice for George or wherever you are on the spectrum of trying to speak out loud, (maybe for the first time) — you recognize that to put forth your position is to be met with sparring and a difference of opinion.

That can be frightening, jarring, and hard.

Jesus knows that.

And so it is, that tucked into the middle of these sayings about sparring with one another is this little nugget of care and reassurance.

“You are worth more than many sparrows!”  Jesus says.

Do not be afraid, because your presence and efforts will not go unnoticed by God!

Not a sparrow falls that God does not notice, and not a hair of your head falls out without God taking notice, so go ahead and speak up!

“What I say in the dark, tell in the light.  What you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.”  Jesus says.

Speak up!   Speak out!  God is giving thought to you and has his eye upon you.  Do not be afraid!

Why this assurance in the middle of all this talk about sparring with others?

It is fear, after all, that so often locks us up, and keeps us in line, and Jesus knows that.

It is fear that keeps people silent.

It is fear that the oppressor depends upon, uses, to keep the slaves in line.

It is fear that those in authority wield so effectively to keep things in the status quo.

Fear of not wanting to make waves.

Fear of not upsetting the family.

Fear of not stepping out of one’s place in life.

Fear of losing one’s life.

Fear of exposing dark secrets.

Fear of inciting violence.

Fear of…. Well, you name it, and we can be afraid of it.

Fear is what serves the interest of this world.

Now there are things of which one should be legitimately afraid, and there are times when caution is to be exercised, but when fear itself is directing the show, then it is that God has been forgotten.

When fear itself keeps us from speaking up or speaking out, then it is that God at very least feels far off.

When fear presses at us, threatening us, then it is that we feel least of significance in the face of all the insurmountable problems around us.

“Who am I to raise my little voice, my little “cheep” in the midst of the cacophony of this world?

“Do not be afraid” comes the voice of Jesus back to us when we question our own voice, our own ability to speak.  “You are of more worth than many sparrows.”

Your voice is heard by God.

You voice will be heard by those around you, as God gives it strength and volume and purpose.

If you are speaking on behalf of God, then Jesus says he will acknowledge that, and speak well of you and on your behalf before God the Father himself.

Even if you get it wrong, Jesus is still willing to advocate on your behalf because you were not afraid to add your “peep” in opposition to the fear put forth from this world.

Better to speak boldly and loudly than to just go along out of fear with the workings of this world!

Of Sparrows and Sparring today.

As disciples we are not spared from the contentious realities of life in this world.

Fear will try to silence us, lock us up, and keep us out of the way.

But greater than fear is this power and love of God proclaimed by Jesus, who comes at us again and again saying, “Do not be afraid… you are worth more, your words spoken are worth more than you think!”

Holy Trinity Sunday Matthew 28:16-20 “I can’t believe what I am seeing…”

 

“I don’t believe what I’m seeing…”   There are a whole bunch of variations on that these days, aren’t there?

Living now weeks into a pandemic and civil unrest, a point of conversation in nearly every interchange these days is some kind of comment on what we have seen.

Partiers in the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend as if Covid 19 did not exist?   “I can’t believe what I’m seeing…” many said as the video was played around the world of people ignoring social distancing, and masks, and handwashing in preference to partying.

The video of a police officer who held his knee on a man’s neck for over 8 minutes while George Floyd struggled and pleaded for him to get off, for his own mother, for breath itself.

We watched it and said, “I can’t believe what I am seeing.”  He’s killing him.   I can’t believe they are showing that.. over and over and over again.

Protests that appeared peaceful on the television camera angle we could see were suddenly broken up by lobbing tear gas canisters, or rushing law enforcement officers.

A man shoved backward by a police officer and striking his head on the pavement, the officers then surrounding him and walking on by leaving him to bleed on the pavement unassisted.

I can’t believe what I am seeing.

I could go on, there have been a lot of unbelievable things this past week, but you can fill in the blanks with your own.

Some will be about not believing what you see.

Some will be about things we can’t believe that are joyous, law enforcement and national guard joining peaceful marches, hands clasped, encouragement given, hospitality extended.

Others will likely be about others disbelieving the validity of the images, or explaining them away, or trying to temper them, or maybe even substituting other videos or images to counter with comments like “where was the outrage when this happened….”

I can’t believe what I am seeing has become for us, almost like a liturgical refrain to life.

This is Holy Trinity Sunday, and one might wonder just what a rather arcane formulation about God like being “Three in one and One in three” might have to do at all with any of the turmoil or the events of this current age?

You might even be tempted to mock a bit.   “You go ahead pastor, talk about the Trinity, while the world burns and the virus spreads.    Maybe your comments will be a pleasant brief academic distraction from all the troubles.”

I wondered if there was any point to mentioning Holy Trinity Sunday at all, but then I looked at this Gospel lesson from Matthew again and found in it a peculiar little detail that seemed to make it speak precisely to this moment.

Matthew records that Jesus gathers his disciples on the mount again, the high place from which in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus always seems to ascend to deliver an important address or a teaching.

They gather there, (we are told) and then we are given this detail by Matthew that we dare not overlook.

When they saw him (that is, Jesus), they worshiped him; but some doubted. 

In other words, (at least for some of them, although we don’t know who or which disciples exactly) — they could not believe what they were seeing….

Suddenly the events of this Gospel make direct connection to us.

It is possible, in other words, to look squarely at the presence of the Resurrected Jesus in your midst and not believe what you are seeing, still have doubts and questions in your mind.

It is possible to hear the call of Jesus to come up to the high place, and to answer that call, to come up to stand in the presence of Jesus looking full at him and hearing his words to you and still not believe what you are seeing.

It is possible to be in the presence of Jesus and not trust your own eyes.

It is possible to be listening to the very words of Jesus spoken to you and still not trust your own perception of what he is saying.

Question and doubt and not knowing what to make of a particular moment, as powerful as it may be, is apparently a possibility even for those who follow Jesus and are listening to him.

I think that’s good news!

We are under incredible pressure right now to do the right things, to make the right decisions, and to follow the right procedures.

We are all trying to understand the dynamics of race relations, the behavior of epidemiological spread, the intricacies of supply and demand, global supply chains, how one sector of the economy impacts another, etc. etc.

We want to get this “right.”

We don’ t want to make any mistakes!

We are bombarded with more than our minds can take in, and so while we listen, discern and sort things out it is completely possible to stand even in the presence of experts and have the experience of not believing what we are seeing!

I think it is good news that even the disbelieving disciples still hung with one another even after the ascension of Jesus.

I think it is even better news that the way they are able to do that was not simply because of what they had seen or heard.

No, the disciples are given the commission in Matthew’s Gospel to go and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

This is the point.

God doesn’t just come at us in what we can see and hear.

God comes at us in whatever way God has to in order to bring us into God’s presence.

I can look at Jesus before me, and hear him speaking, and still have doubts about it, and about what I am supposed to do, and how I am supposed to respond.

But God doesn’t only come at us in the person, in the examples and teaching of Jesus.

God also comes at us as the Creator, surrounding us with all of creation that we might sense the power and majesty of God in all of its raw and unpredictable power.

When I am full of myself and feeling like I am the one in charge of my fate, the thunder rolls and the lightning strikes and the earth shakes and I am suddenly put in my place as creature.

I am given a sense of awe at things that I cannot comprehend or certainly cannot control.

This is the God who comes at me too, who terrifies as well as comforts.   Who I turn to when the machinations of human events, politics, violence, terror at the hands of the oppressor threaten to overwhelm me.

The God of the Omni’s – Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, — so different and far above me…. does not do the bidding of Presidents or Kings, Queens or Corporations — nor can God be pocketed by them or held up like a talisman to be controlled.

Holy Trinity reminds us that God is unsearchable and unknowable at times, we can see and not believe or make sense of the things that God may be doing (even in our midst) that are simply beyond our comprehension at this time.

We trust in this God to bend the moral arch of the universe toward Justice, as God has promised so to do with the narrative arch of the scriptures.

From the blood of Able crying out from the ground to God showing Pharaoh who is God to exiles returned and children mourned, the stories of scripture recount a God who moves to end oppression and who calls to count those who trade in exploitation.

We trust in this God even when we cannot see how the arch of justice is bending from our particular angle.

But God also does not only come at us simply as raw power and unsearchable other.

No, God also comes as Spirit.

God comes as a breath that gives life, and that separates waters, and that stirs dry bones making them live again.

God comes as a breath that warms, as a feeling that overtakes, as a movement that cannot be directed or manipulated or stopped.

“The Spirit blows where it wills..” Jesus says to Nicodemus, who cannot fathom or understand what Jesus is talking about in that moment, even though Nicodemus sees and hears Jesus face to face!

It is not just Jesus who reveals God’s presence, Nicodemus also senses God’s presence in and around Jesus’ actions themselves, and his own inquiry.

“No one can do these things without God.”  Nicodemus says.

The Spirit is the promised advocate who will work on us internally.

The Spirit will inhabit us, fill us, cause our eyes to see and our ears to hear, and empower our service, as imperfectly as we may offer it – and it is the Spirit who will multiply our meager efforts until God’s will is done at last.

This is the gift this day, of Holy Trinity.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not so much something hammered out by theologians and controversies and ascents to understanding.

No, Holy Trinity is finally about how God comes at us, and God has chosen to come at us in these distinct ways.

God comes at us through creation to remind us that we are indeed creature and limited, and so must never think so highly of ourselves that we begin to believe that we can take the place or position of God.

God comes at us through the Son, Jesus — whose life, example and teaching, and whose acts of love and acceptance become the model for how we are to live and understand God’s own love for us.

God comes at us through the Spirit, to move us and fill us in ways that we cannot quite describe but know when we feel it.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing….”  The disciples would say, and thanks be to God, seeing was not the only way that God was willing to come at them, or at us.

Stewardship Notes from the Pastor

Strategic Giving for Retirees

Dana J. Holt

People have been tithing for millennia. In Christian tradition, the aim of many is to give 10% of their household income to the church as offering to God. But how much should we give after we retire and don’t have a regular income from work anymore? And where should that money come from: Savings? Investments? Retirement accounts?

The answer boils down to cash flow and asset location during retirement. The United States Federal Reserve estimates that only about 5% of personal wealth is held in cash at any given time. We keep only enough cash to cover daily expenses and emergencies. The other 95% is held in things like real estate, insurance, businesses, banks, and retirement accounts.

Over the past several decades, employees have become more active in contributing to personal retirement accounts. Gone are the days of private pensions, so it’s up to individuals to save money for retirement. According to the Investment Company Institute, we currently hold over $29 Trillion in retirement accounts! About $9.5 Trillion is held in IRAs alone. (That will become very relevant soon, so read on….)

Most retirees live on a combination of Social Security income and distributions from their retirement accounts, such as IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). It may surprise you that many retirees don’t need all the money in their IRAs, but they are forced to take distributions when they are six months past turning 70 years old. These distributions are commonly referred to as RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) and are virtually 100% taxable. They are often quite sizeable – five, six, or even seven digits large!

Until recently, people had no choice but to withdraw these (sometimes large) RMDs and pay the corresponding tax. That extra income often causes additional expenses, such as:

  • Increasing someone’s overall tax rate
  • Increasing the amount of Social Security Income that is taxed
  • Increasing the cost of Medicare premiums

Today, people have a choice. If they don’t need or want those sizeable RMDs, they can send some or all of it to their favorite charities and avoid those uninvited costs mentioned above. This technique is called a “Qualified Charitable Distribution” (QCD) and it’s becoming extremely popular.

Here are some of the finer points of a QCD.

  • Must be 70 ½ or older at the time of the transfer.
  • May distribute up to $100,000 per year, per IRA owner.
  • Counts towards satisfying RMD.
  • Distribution is not taxable to IRA owner or to charity.
  • Must be sent directly from IRA custodian to charity.
  • Only applies to IRAs – NOT 401(k), 403(b), etc.

Of course, people could certainly take distributions of those RMDs into income, recognize the additional taxes, and make a tax-deductible cash donation to their favorite charities. Unfortunately, they may not itemize their deductions. Furthermore, the deduction may not offset the additional income tax, and this workaround doesn’t help with increased Social Security taxation or Medicare premiums.

The Qualified Charitable Distribution is probably the most tax-efficient way for retirees over 70 ½ to give to charity. They can use it to tithe, or to make significant contributions for any charitable purpose, easily sending a check.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the Qualified Charitable Distribution yet. It’s up to neighbors and friends to spread the word. When working with my nonprofit clients I always encourage them to tell their supporters about QCDs in all the ways they communicate — in person, e-mail, website, newsletters, etc. During such awareness-building, pay attention to the professional advisors in your congregation; financial planners, attorneys, and CPAs will want to know about this too, so they can support their clients and promote broad financial understanding.

A “donor profile” or anecdotal story is one of the best ways to share this information. When you tell a story about someone with whom the reader identifies, it becomes much more real and relevant to them. Try finding a member who has used her IRA to make a Qualified Charitable Distribution to your congregation, and highlight her story to inspire other donors!

Don’t forget, the giver can also name your congregation as a partial or full beneficiary of that IRA so that when she passes, more of those IRA assets will support your ministry. If left to family, those assets will become taxable, but there are no taxes on what is willed to charity, so some people prefer designating the entire distribution to a cause or organization, including churches.

Stewardship leaders, make your job easier by making tithing options clearer, namely by explaining how participants can give from their asset base — not that tiny bit of cash they keep on hand.

Study Opportunities

St. James offers a variety of options for adult learning and interaction, so take advantage of these that fit your schedule or interest.

“Coffee with Jesus” Wednesdays at 7 a.m. at Perkins on North Oak, or Saturdays at 9 a.m. at Green Acres Market in Briarcliff. It’s a little comic, a little scripture, and a few discussion starter questions that help us reflect on life, relationships, and reasons for doing the things we do. Come and join the conversation.

“8 Q Inquiries.” Second Monday of the month in St. Timothy Hall, 1:30 p.m. “The Gathering” women’s group meet in a bible study that takes a bible story, reads and listens to it, and then generates eight questions for conversation from the group about that story. Lively conversation, open format, a new story every month. Drop in as you are able.

Church in the World Notes

The Clay County Clothes Closet is the charity chosen by Church in the World Committee for the month of April

April 7th and 14th have been designated “Undie Sundays”. Besides gifts of gently used clothing we’re asking for donations of NEW underwear and NEW Socks, all sizes from children’s to adult. Or, you can make cash donations and those will be used by the closet to purchase necessary items and stock them.

Watch for information in the May Servitor on how to donate to the Flooding disasters both domestically and internationally. Both of these will be “long term recovery” events, so long after they drop from the headlines the clean-up and rebuilding will continue.

From the Intern

Our daffodils are about a day away from blooming. My favorite part about daffodils blooming is that it means that our tulips are next, and the magnolia trees are not far behind. I love the early spring flowers: the first real green of the year, the riot of color, the signs of new life and hope: the reminder that we have made it through another winter, and that God does, indeed, make all things new.

As the season of Lent draws to a close this month and we continue our journey of reflection and spiritual disciplines, we have an opportunity to reflect on the ways that God is always making us new: perhaps we find that our relationships with others are transformed, or that we see ourselves in a new and fresh light. Perhaps Lent has drawn us closer to God, closer to our siblings in Christ, closer to our communities. Or perhaps we have a new handle on an old issue that has plagued us, and find new strength for that journey.

Each year, with the coming of the daffodils and tulips and the magnolia blossoms, we know that Easter is coming as well – a day in which we celebrate the risen Christ, the One in whom we draw our comfort and strength. We celebrate his resurrection, his defeat over death, and we are reminded that because of Christ, death will not be the last word for us, either. We, too, will be resurrected on the last day.

When I see the life renewed in daffodils, tulips, and magnolia blossoms, spring after spring, I am reminded of the ways in which God renews my life: spring after spring, Easter after Easter, day after day. I pray that you, too, see reminders around you this spring of God’s renewing work in your lives.

 

Intern Sarah

From the Pastor

“Enough” Problems.

We have “enough” problems as a society right now, but I don’t mean that in the way that you probably think I do.

I’m not talking about the number of problems, as in “enough, can’t take any more.” Oh we might have that too, but my mind is wandering elsewhere today.

We have problems that too often seem to stem from our inability to determine what is “enough.”

Let’s take a few cases in point.

We have a situation in this society where people are unable to earn “enough” to make a living. They find themselves in this position because of the way society currently values occupations, rewards outcomes, or seeks to regulate expenditures.

“There isn’t enough in the budget to give health care to all.”

“There aren’t enough hours in the day to work enough to pay the rent, buy the food, send the kids to college, .. no matter how many jobs at minimum wage I get.

“We don’t have enough positions open, or enough customers, or large enough profits, or enough resources to pay you more.”

We have this situation at the same time that we are unable to determine what the upper limits of compensation should be for others.

There appears to be no “enough” for a CEO, it is whatever it takes to secure that desired person.

There is no “enough” for a desired coach, sports player, entertainer, or celebrity. It is whatever it takes to get that person to do it.

There is no “enough” for shareholders, it is always “how much more.”

People seem unable or unwilling to self limit and say “that’s enough” or “that’s more than enough” for what you are asking me to do.

You see what I mean?

It is an “enough” problem that fuels the conversations. How much would be “enough” of a wage to lift people out of poverty?

When we do try to address that question of “enough”, we find ourselves sidetracked into comparison conversations. An amount for a minimum wage is proposed that would be “enough”, and immediately that amount is compared to what some other sector makes. “You mean you want to pay a burger flipper as much as a …”

So now, we are no longer talking about what would be “enough,” are we?

Or how about this conundrum? We have a society that is awash with firearms. In 2017 the statistics for the U.S. indicated that there are 120 civilian firearms for every 100 citizens alive in the U.S. (The next highest was the Falkland Islands with 62 firearms to every 100 citizen.) Please note, not included in these figures are any National Guard Armories, Military arms, or Law Enforcement armories. Just in the civilian circulation we have enough guns out there for every living person regardless of age to have one, and 20% to have more than one.

Gun shows occupy exposition center square footage when they come to town, and they often require more square footage to display hand held devices than are needed to display boats, RV’s or Motor Vehicles.

The Constitution does indeed guarantee the “right to bear arms” to American Citizens.

What the Constitution does not give guidance on is the type of firearm one might possess and how many firearms are “enough,” to assure a well regulated militia.

We can never seem to get around to talking about “enough” when it comes to guns. The conversation always cycles quickly to individual rights to own, and to the fear of criminals having guns while law-abiding citizens are denied them for self protection.

There are no good statistical numbers on the effectiveness of firearms for self-protection. The estimates vary wildly depending on special interest bias.

We can’t even effectively study the issue as congress has blocked government agencies like the CDC from studying gun violence and the public welfare effects of gun ownership.

There is no way to get a measure of “enough” if there is no independent measurement.

What is measurable is the number of injuries and deaths because of the ready availability of firearms. 30,000+ deaths annually in the U.S., 21,000+ of them successful suicides because of the availability of firearms. 500+ accidental deaths by firearm discharge on the owners.

It is not my intention to enter into debate about the 2nd Amendment here, but only to point out that it appears that conversations of “enough” are left out of the equation.

Although I started this message early in the month, it does appear that one country has initiated a conversation. New Zealand has indicated “enough is enough” and has moved swiftly both to support their Muslim population in the wake of the Mosque shootings, and to initiate gun control measures for automatic weapons and magazine sizes.

The “scandal du jour” breaking as I write this involves bribery at learning institutions, celebrities and wealthy individuals scamming the system to get their children into Ivy League institutions.

Again, this is a question of “enough” isn’t it? Getting my children into schools perceived as “good enough” even if my child’s grades or test scores aren’t “good enough” to warrant admission.

How much is “enough” to exert your influence over others, or institutions? Should you be able to do that?

I’m going on too long here, but one of the reasons why the church talks a lot about Stewardship is to equip people to begin to answer, (or at least struggle with) the “enough” questions. The one question that the forces at work in this world so studiously avoids.

I know that sometimes when the church talks about stewardship people are tempted to think, “I have enough problems in life, I don’t really have time or want to think about what I give to God.”

I want you to recall in that moment all of the “enough” problems that surround us all.

Could it be that spending a little intentional time considering “enough” in your own life through the eyes of faith might just help you navigate with some clarity all the other “enough” problems that plague this world?

Just a thought.

That’s enough.

Pastor Merle.

Central States Synod Assembly June 6–8, 2019 at the Marriott Kansas City/Overland Park, KS

The Synod Assembly is the highest legislative authority of the synod and is charged with electing members to the Synod Council, other synod committees and churchwide voting members, voting on a budget and on other resolutions that are presented to the assembly. In addition to conducting the business of the synod, voting members and visitors gather for worship, presentations, and workshops designed to support the ministry we do together as a synod.

This year’s Assembly will also be an election for the Bishop. St. James is allotted two voting delegates, one male, one female. It will in “in town” so we will be commuting to the assembly in Overland Park.

If you would like to serve as a voting delegate, contact the church office at 454-5295 for more information.

Stewardship Notes from the Pastor

“Holy Currency Event, Saturday Sept 21st, 9 a.m. Hollis Renewal Center.

 

This is a “put it on the calendar now” kind of thing. Eric H.F. Law is an Episcopal priest who has devoted his life to changing the conversation around Stewardship. He introduces the idea of currency back into the conversation, and not just money, but the time, resources, abilities, relationships, truths and leadership that is required for currencies to “flow” in order for there to be balance and wholeness in our lives and in our world. This is an interactive experience that will change the way you think about your own understanding of gifts, giving, and how you use those things placed before you. More information later about registration and costs, but for right now put it on your calendar. I have personal goal of 10 people from St. James attending. If 10 were to experience this, it would trickle into the conversations of 10 more, and a 100 people would have thought about how God has gifted them with all they have. It’s a multiplication event, so consider blocking out a Saturday to be enriched and to become a blessing to someone else.

Pastor Merle

Study Opportunities in March

St. James offers a variety of options for adult learning and interaction, so take advantage of these that fit your schedule or interest.

 

Adult Forums on Sunday Morning — “Living Into the Gospel.”

For the season of Lent our Sunday Morning adult class will take the form of a dialogue with the preacher. The preacher lives with the bible lessons all week long and then crafts words to say something about them, or ponders what those stories may have to say to us today. Here’s your chance to engage in a deepened conversation. Bring your questions about the bible texts, or what the preacher said, and enter into a lively conversation of learning together.

 

“Coffee with Jesus” Wednesdays at 7 a.m. at Perkins on North Oak, or Saturdays at 9 a.m. at Green Acres Market in Briarcliff. It’s a little comic, a little scripture, and a few discussion starter questions that help us reflect on life, relationships, and reasons for doing the things we do. Come and join the conversation.

 

“8 Q Inquiries.” Second Monday of the month in St. Timothy Hall, 1:30 p.m. “The Gathering” women’s group meet in a bible study that takes a bible story, reads and listens to it, and then generates eight questions for conversation from the group about that story. Lively conversation, open format, a new story every month. Drop in as you are able.