Table Rock Talk May 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Put a lid on it

Vestry researches possibility of reroofing

At its January meeting, the Lawrencefield vestry appointed a Long Term Maintenance Committee to confer and research long-term maintenance issues for the church’s physical plant. Junior Warden Scott Duymich was named as chair, with former Junior Warden David Duymich, and vestry members Jack Wheeler and Ron White serving in an advisory capacity. Their short-term task was to name, prioritize and price maintenance issues which might be expected to arise in the next five to ten years.

The committee’s report, at the March Vestry meeting, named replacement of the boiler and roof, both of which are original to the building’s construction in 1962. Replacement of rotten window sills in the nave was also named, as was replacement of kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are a relatively low priority as they do not affect the building’s integrity, and it was deemed advisable to wait to repair the window sills until the roof was repaired, in case the rot resulted from rain running off a damaged roof.

The Junior Warden says that the existing ceramic roof tile is so fragile that multiple tiles fracture every time someone goes up to clean the gutters. This breakage has contributed to the chronic leaks over the organ, in the sacristy closet and in the secretary’s office, and is very difficult to repair. Patching is not completely effective.

The committee feels the boiler can be coaxed into a few years’ additional service, and so has named the roof as the highest maintenance priority. The Vestry accepted this assessment and asked the Junior Warden to obtain estimates for both asphalt tile and metal roof replacement.

At the April Vestry meeting an estimate for a 50-year metal roof was presented from Samuel Troyer for $23,295. The vestry feels this estimate is more than reasonable, but before contracting would like to raise at least half this amount in pledges. The rector was asked to present this project to the congregation to assess its viability.

If you are willing and able to help us put a new lid on Lawrencefield Church, please contact the rector as soon as possible while this favorable price is still available!

Results of the Health Right Fundraiser

Lawrencefield’s participation in the Congregations for Caring project sponsored by Health Right, Wheeling’s free medical and dental clinic, netted $975, far outstripping our goal of $722, the annual cost for supporting one Health Right client. As of this writing, a check for that amount, accompanied by a much smaller check from the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, is on its way to the 29th St. facility. Thank you all for your generosity in supporting this important ministry right in our own community!

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter

The beginning of wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This adage may be found in both Psalm 11, verse 10, and Proverbs 9, verse 10, suggesting that it may have been a familiar saying in Old Testament times. The New Testament also refers to the “Fear of God”: The Magnificat, the Song the Virgin Mary uttered when she learned she would bear the Son of God, contains the phrase, “His mercy is on those who fear him…” (Luke 1:50.)

At the same time, twenty-four verses after that, Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist, reacting to that miraculous birth) blesses God for fulfilling God’s covenant with God’s people, “that we… might serve him without fear.” The word translated “fear” is an adjective (“fearing”) in verse 50, and an adverb (“fearlessly”) in verse 74, but they both derive from the same Greek word, φοβος (phobos), from which our English word “phobia” comes.

Obviously, the expression “fear of God” refers to something other than our usual concept of fear, which has quite a lot to do with phobias, terror, horror and avoidance. God forbid that our attitude before God is one of phobias, terror, horror and avoidance! I think most of realize that “fear of the Lord” has more to do with reverence, awe, respect and obedience, but I get asked about this often enough that I thought I would treat of it in this column.

Wikipedia distinguishes between "fear of the Lord" which “refers to a specific sense of respect, awe, and submission to a deity,” and “fear of God” which suggests “apprehension of divine punishment.” I think this distinction is useful only if you are using the latter phrase in the colloquial sense of “That really put the fear of God into him!” I do not think that the fear of God commended by the psalmist and St. Mary the Virgin has anything to do with an apprehension of punishment. In a theological sense, at least, fear of the Lord and fear of God is for Christians the same thing.

If fear of God is not the same thing as, say, fear of snakes, and has more to do with reverence and awe, why don’t we say, “Reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom,” instead of “Fear of God…” which is so open to misinterpretation?

The answer is that “reverence” doesn’t capture adequately the appropriate human posture before God. Even though Jesus Christ has permanently opened loving access to God the Father for us, God is still unimaginably glorious and powerful. The strain of twenty-first century American Christianity which holds something like, “Jesus is my buddy,” must not eclipse the fact that God is way bigger than our imaginations.

The story of the Flood, if nothing else, teaches that God has ultimate control, and could destroy the world God created if God chose. That God chooses instead to love and forgive us is not something we should take for granted.

William D. Eisenhower, writing for Christianity Today says:

As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.

Thus the answer to the question, “Are we really supposed to be afraid of God?” is mostly, but not entirely, “no.” To really love God means to submit to God, and when that happens, God has a tendency to heal you, and when that happens, things change, and change is scary. Living with the scary possibility of transformation is part of what it is to fear God by serving God without fear. And that is surely the beginning of true wisdom!

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the April 23 Vestry Meeting:

Change to Churchyard bylaws Current churchyard rules require vaults for all burials. This requirement was recently waived for the placement of a biodegradable urn. Churchyard chair Mary Frohme and co-chair Marc Seamon have suggested removing the vault requirement from the bylaws. The purpose of a vault is to prevent the sinking of earth as settlement occurs and there are no legal or sanitary issues involved. The vestry voted to approve the removal of the vault requirement for urns only, pending research of what issues may attend full-body no-vault interments.

Elisabeth von Trapp A parishioner has expressed interest in hosting a concert for this scion of the “Sound of Music family” who sings folk and religious songs, plays acoustic guitar and will be on a church tour in the area in the Fall. Von Trapp does not demand an engagement fee but takes a freewill offering at the event. The vestry wondered if even a capacity crowd at Lawrencefeld (150) would produce enough revenue to make a stop here worth her while. The rector will email her agent for more information.

Education Committee Barb Hinkle reported that the adult education series on world religions taught by the Rev. Bonnie Thurston will probably be scheduled for the fall.

Long Term Maintenance Jr. Warden Scott Duymich reported that Samuel Troyer submitted an estimate for materials for a 40-year metal roof at $11,414, and a 50-year metal roof at $12,295. Installation in both cases is an additional $11,000. The vestry found the difference in cost between 40-year and 50-year roofs to be sufficiently small that we would seek to accept that estimate if sufficient interest exists in the congregation to raise the funds. The rector will present the possibility of roof-replacement to the congregation to test the waters on fund-raising for this project.

Junior Warden Mulch will shortly be placed around the church foundation. Diagonal lines will soon be painted between the handicap parking spaces.

Coming Events The vestry discussed whether or not revive the July 3 cook-out preceding viewing of Oglebay fireworks from our hill. It was decided to make the hill available but not to plan a formal meal.

Minutes and Treasurer’s Report were presented and accepted.