Table Rock Talk March 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Wind in the Wilderness

Details of the Wednesday Lenten Series

Though we cannot see the wind, we know it by its effects and interpret it by its results. We see how wind can bend and move things. When something is affected by wind, we begin to take notice of its potential and power. The same can be said for the work of the Hebrew prophets, who communicated God’s justice and faithfulness at various times throughout the history of God’s people. Much of this history was chaotic and unpredictable, like the wilderness. Often times it felt as if God was distant. Yet as the prophets spoke, the wind of God’s presence was blowing. Through their words the wind was moving, giving us a hint of Jesus, who was to come.

WIND IN THE WILDERNESS is the title of our Wednesday Lenten Series this year. The Episcopal Churches of Wheeling will join together for Lenten study on Wednesday evenings at St. Matthew’s.  Each program will be hosted by one congregation and will begin with a light supper at 6:00 p.m.  The host congregation will be offering soup and beverage.  Participants may bring their own sandwich to supplement.  Supper will be from 6:00 - 6:30 and the program from 6:30 to 7:30.  The format is as follows:

  • March 8—Hosted by St. Matthew’s: Building a Skyscraper presented by the Rev. Mark E. Seitz
  • March 15—Hosted by Lawrencefield: Sticks and Stones presented by the Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter
  • March 22—Hosted by St. Matthew’s: Worst Baby Names EVER presented by the Rev. Richard L. Skaggs
  • March 29—Hosted by St. Matthew’s: 9 Words That Changed Everything presented by the Rev. Mark E. Seitz
  • April 5—Hosted by St. Luke’s: Present in the Waiting presented by the Rev. Richard L. Skaggs

Invitation to Explore Spirituality of Art

FSL sponsors field trip

As the latest in a series of sessions exploring aspects of spirituality, the Friends of St. Lawrence is planning a field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and members of the congregation are invited. A dozen or so objects from the permanent collection will be featured, while participants will be encouraged to respond to what they find spiritual in each work. No prior knowledge of art history is necessary. The field trip will take place Saturday March 18, and the schedule is as follows:

  • 9:15am: Rendezvous in Lawrencefield parking lot. Arrange carpooling
  • 10:45am: Assemble at admission desk on lower level of the Carnegie Museum (nearest the parking deck)
  • 11am-12:30ppm: Tour of selected artworks
  • 12:45pm: Lunch at a local restaurant (optional)
  • 2pm: Return to cars for ride home
  • 3:30pm: Back at Lawrencefield

Admission to the Museum is free for members, $19.95 for non-members under 65 (this will be reduced to $15 if we have ten or more people in this category.); $14.95 for non-members 65+. Parking is $6 and can be shared, along with gas costs, among carloads. Everyone pays for their own lunch, which will probably run $12–20.

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

A peek into a thesis

My dear, dear friends: For the past month I have pounding out my doctoral thesis in an effort to get it submitted by the March 1 deadline for graduating in May. I am pleased and exhausted to tell you that my thesis (all 214 pages of it, including appendices) goes to my review committee as this issue of Table Rock Talk goes to press. My last hurdle will be my “Defense” which is set for March 31, and for which I crave your prayers. In the meantime, just so you know what you all have been contributing to thus far with your prayers, moral support and sabbatical coverage, I submit to you excerpts from the introduction of my paper. You may of course read the whole thing if you need help going to sleep some night. Just ask!

A scientist confronted God, declaring that since science could now create a human being, there was no further need for God. “Fine,” God said, “Show me how you can make a human being.” The scientist bent down to grab a handful of earth, but God said, “Wait a minute. Get your own dirt.”

Only God creates ex nihilo. This project, and this paper, obviously grew out of other, preexisting phenomena. So to begin, here is the “dirt,” the axioms, from which this paper grew.

First, some basic Christian theology: God created the world, including human beings, to be good. Human beings were created “in the image of God,” each bearing God’s imprint and some reflection of God’s capacity for creating. However, human beings are not robots or puppets. They must choose to act for good as God wills, and sometimes they choose badly. Through these bad choices, theologically known as human sin, creation has become corrupt.

God however continues to work to set creation to rights. God’s continuing purpose is to redeem creation and bring it to perfection. God has acted not only through the original act of creation, but through covenanting with human beings, through the Law and the Prophets, and in sending God’s Son Jesus Christ, to teach, live, die and rise again in the service of God’s kingdom. Though human beings are finite and imperfect, God intends that we participate and cooperate with God in the redemption of the universe and the establishment of God’s kingdom.

Jesus Christ preached that the kingdom of God is near, and demonstrated what that kingdom is like, by feeding, healing, teaching, forgiving, loving, liberating, empowering and advocating for the poor. When human beings participate in Christ-like activities, we participate in the kingdom of God in the here and now. In other words, the kingdom is not something we have to die to achieve, although the redemption of the universe will be complete only in God’s own time. Scripture describes this time of consummation as “the Day of the Lord.”

The universal church is the conduit for God’s grace (though perhaps not the only one?) in keeping this vision and passing it on. The Church, which is understood to be the mystical body of the Son of God, accepts members through the sacrament of baptism, and sustains them through the sacrament of the Eucharist, the reenactment of Jesus Christ’s self-giving to humankind.

Through baptism people are called to be ministers of the kingdom of God. For this purpose God gives each person a unique constellation of innate talents, known as “spiritual gifts.” Ministry is using these gifts to build the kingdom of God. In baptism every Christian is called to ministry. In other words, a personal relationship with Jesus does not a Christian make. Being baptized means one has received a call to reach out to the needy world in some kingdom-of-God way – feeding, healing, teaching, forgiving, loving, liberating, empowering and standing with the poor.

Each person’s life presents him or her with unique opportunities to act in kingdom-of-God ways. Each Christian life requires discernment of both spiritual gifts and one’s particular situation. This is called “vocation.” Individuals have personal vocations, and church communities have collective vocations. Vocation, and discernment of vocation, is rooted in prayer. That’s where spirituality comes in. My desire to explore this link between spirituality and vocation forms the basis of the project this paper describes.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the February 19 Vestry Meeting:

Rector’s Report The rector read a letter from Bp. Klusmeyer thanking Lawrencefield Parish Church for the timely payment of our 2016 apportionment in full. The rector added her own thanks.

Personnel Committee Karen Dalby, Barb Hinkle and Jaci Neer reported. Having consulted with the Budget Committee they recommended accepting the rector’s requested to receive no raise in compensation but be given an additional two weeks vacation including one additional Sunday off. They also recommended increasing the hourly wage of the secretary and custodian by 20%, and the organist’s compensation by $25 per performance. None of these three employees has received a raise in the time they have been with us. All do a superb job and we want them to stay with us. The vestry approved these changes.

Budget Committee Tom Farnsworth, Jack Wheeler and Ron White have prepared a budget but had not yet entered the payroll increases pending vestry approval. Tom will email a copy of the adjusted budget to the vestry, which approved it provisionally pending a chance to see the numbers in print.

Education Committee The rector tasked Barbara Hinkle, Airry Schultz and Janine Reddy with investigating the possibility of hosting an adult education on World Religions featuring guest speakers. If, as expected, speakers would be paid, money would be raised outside the budget specifically for this purpose.

Long Term Maintenance In the absence of Jr. Warden Scott Duymich, this report was postponed until the next meeting.

Minutes and Treasurers Report were accepted and received.

Calendar Due to the large number of people who will be unable to attend, the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is cancelled. The rector will send an email urging pancake lovers to attend the supper at St. Matthew’s.

Lawrencefield’s date to provision the Wheeling Cluster Lenten Soup Supper is March 15. A sign-up sheet will be posted.