Table Rock Talk November 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Come one, come all

Annual Meeting November 20

At about 11:10 (following the 10:00 service) on November 20, all members of the Lawrencefield family are urged to attend the Annual Congregational meeting.

The first order of business will be to review a short video offering instruction in the use of the Defibrillator we keep on hand for emergencies. Everyone who attends church should be aware of this potential life-saving equipment and how to use it.

We will then join in a common fellowship meal. The main dish will be provided. Those attending are asked to bring a side dish, salad or dessert to share.

The business section of the meeting will then convene. Three new vestry members will be elected, and the membership will be given a first look at the 2017 budget. Reports will be offered from Lawrencefield’s various ministries.

According to Episcopal Church Canon and Lawrencefield Parish Church policy and practice, in order to vote at the Annual Congregational Meeting, you must:

  1. Be baptized
  2. Be 16 years old or older
  3. For the last six (6) months:
    1. have been a regular worshipper in this parish
    2. been a regular contributor to this parish

Giving thanks

Warwood service, booklets for family use

The Rector will hold a Thanksgiving Service on Tuesday, November 22 at 1:30pm at the Home for Men in Warwood. There will be no Thanksgiving Day Service at Lawrencefield Church. However, a collection of Prayers of Thanks will once again be available at Church. A variety of prayers are offered, suitable for use at Thanksgiving and all other times.

Buy food, help LPC

Local groceries offer fundraising opportunities

For some time, it has been possible to contribute to Lawrencefield by buying groceries at Kroger using your Kroger Plus card. However you must register your card at krogercommunityrewards.com, using LPC’s ID number, 96241. Now Riesbeck’s shoppers can also help the church by collecting Best Choice labels. Bring your Best Choice labels to church, where we will collect and redeem them at 3 cents a label.

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

What happens when we die?

Coincidentally, the Friends of St. Lawrence, a group that started last Advent as a group of explorers into spiritual practices and has evolved into a discussion group about Christian doctrine, practice and experience, began discussing the subject of death around Halloween. The discussion proved so lively (ha!) that FSL will have another session on the subject early in November. In preparation for that second session, I volunteered to do some research into biblical references to death. I figured my findings would be of general interest, so I am sharing them with you.

As is true of so many other subjects, the Bible is actually somewhat ambiguous when it comes to what happens when we die. The one thing that seems indisputable, if you are a Christian, is that Jesus Christ promises eternal life: “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die’” (John 11:25-26.) Disagreements have arisen between Christians of good faith as to exactly what that means, and to whom it applies.

The issue of who goes to heaven (The righteous? The purged? The pre-destined? Everybody?) frankly doesn’t interest me too much. A life lived in preparation for what happens when you die seems an inappropriate emphasis to me. Part of the “abundant life” that Jesus promises is surely the living of this current life to the fullest for its own sake. The kingdom of heaven described by Jesus surely begins now, although it will not be fully realized until the time appointed by God. In the meantime, we participate in the kingdom of heaven by doing the kingdom of heaven work of forgiving, feeding, healing, seeking justice, and generally loving. At any rate, the question of who gets into heaven and who doesn’t is surely God’s business, not mine.

So let me move on to the issue of what happens when you die. The Bible has two traditions that coexist side by side. One is that death is like falling asleep, an unconscious state in which you remain until Jesus’ Second Coming when “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 15:52.) The other is that death is a more or less immediate doorway into another level of existence, where people are reunited with loved ones who have gone before and are gathered into the closer company of God with the saints.

Proponents of both points of view can cite chapter and verse to support their point of view. Generally speaking, official Protestant doctrine supports the “falling asleep” theory as more biblical, while Catholic tradition has been more receptive to the other view, that life is “changed, not ended.” Lucky us! As Anglicans we can follow either route (or something in between) and still find other reliable Anglicans who will agree with us!

On the one hand, there is Old Testament evidence that traditional Jewish teaching, as the Saducees of Jesus’ day held, shows that death represents an end to human existence: : “The dead know nothing,” “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and breath returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 and 12:7.)

Alongside this, the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead supports the idea that the dead “sleep” until “awakened” by Jesus at the resurrection. “’Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him,’” interpreted in the context of verse 14: “Lazarus is dead.”

This view seems to be supported by 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.”

On the other hand, in Luke 23: 43, Jesus tells one of the criminals crucified with him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (italics mine.) This would imply that what awaits us at death is not, in fact, on hold until the Second Coming.

In John 14:3, Jesus says: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” This indicates that Jesus has prepared our way and is waiting for us at our death.

There is also a strong tradition that what awaits us at death will bring an end to pain: “God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more.” (Revelation 21:3-4.) The “Second Coming” school will argue that this will not happen until the end of time however.

There may even be biblical support for the idea that death reunites us with loved ones who have gone before: “Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25: 8.) This phrase recurs in the Old Testament, but arguably could mean simply that Abraham’s body was buried in a family plot. As you see, depending upon what you want to believe, scripture can be quoted in support!

What do I personally believe? That we, and all our days, are in God’s hands. Whether we “go to sleep” and wait until the culmination of history to be raised to heaven, or are immediately ushered into the nearer company of God in glory, we can count on being cared for in death as in life, and that after all nothing [not even death] “can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-9.) In that hope I live and die.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the October 16 Vestry Meeting:

Handicap Parking The paving has been completed by Wilson Blacktop. Dave Duymich will paint lines for three parking spaces and erect two handicap parking signs.

Dicoesan Convention will be held October 28–29 at the Waterfront in Morgantown. Jay Paulovicks and Rich Walter are duly elected delegates, Nancy Paulovicks and Tom Farnsworth are alternates. Rector will also attend.

Stewardship Committee has approved the fall mailing, which will go out within the week.

Nominating Committee Outgoing vestry members Michelle Beihl, Dave Duymich and Bob Luchetti presented the names of Scott Duymich and Jack Wheeler as vestry members for the 2017-2019 term, dependent upon their willingness to serve. A third candidate is to be determined. Michelle Beihl volunteered to enter her own name as a delegate to Diocesan Council next year.

Committee Reports Forms were distributed to all officers and heads of ministries for inclusion in the Annual Report

Senior Warden Personalized pens, Post-its and bottles of hand sanitizer have been acquired for inclusion in our gift bags for visitors. In addition, small scented candles will be labelled with the Lawrencefield name and included in the bags.

Junior Warden Despite recent heavy rains, the undercroft has taken on no water, indicating that the drainage repairs were successful. The hot/ cold water mixer in the rector’s shower has been replaced.

Minutes and Financial Report were accepted and received.

Christmas Service Schedule We will hold our family Christmas Eve Service as usual at 5:00pm on Saturday, December 24. The Rector asked if any modification should be made to the service schedule for Christmas Day, which falls on a Sunday. The vestry recommended asking for congregational input at the Annual Meeting on this matter.