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The Stone News for March 2004
This is an honest, if not entirely satisfying explanation. We post-moderns appreciate journey and exploration rather than pat answers. But, every once in awhile, we also like to have things settled. Hey God, after all these years, can't we have some stability, some answers that remain the same? Do we have to go on yet another journey? Can't you just give us a firm place to land?
The journey of Lent gets to the very core of our being, to the essence of creation, to the heart of God. Karl Barth writes about God's freedom exercised in the creation. Lent is a journey of understanding God's freedom. Understanding that God has freely chosen to be with us. Understanding that God freely chose to risk a creation in which we humans have the freedom to be the best or the worst. Understanding that God freely chose relationship with humanity in the form of Jesus Christ. Understanding that God freely chose to lead us on the path to full humanity by means of Jesus' teaching, life, and ministry among us. Understanding that God freely chose to risk the death of God's son, when humans found his teaching, life, and ministry too demanding. Understanding that, even after this, God freely chose to remain engaged with us through the presence of God's Spirit. Understanding that, rather than resorting to revenge or control of humanity, God freely continues to allow us freedom to choose the best and to grow in God's way. The journey of Lent is a way of understanding that we and God are on an open-ended journey together.
Blessings of grace and peace for the journey
Seasons of Christian Life: What is Lent? What Is Holy Week?
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (this year, February 25th) and ends forty days later, excluding Sundays, on the Saturday before Easter.
In the early church, during Ash Wednesday ceremonies, ashes made from the palms of the previous year's Palm Sunday were placed on the foreheads of believers. While making the sign of the cross in ashes, the priest said the ancient words, "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return." The early church thus focused on the experience of public penance, and Lent was seen as a period of reflection and self-scrutiny of one's sin and estrangement.
With public penance less common, many Christian churches now begin Lent differently. Our Presbyterian prayer book gives us the challenge, "Remember your Baptism and be faithful." This suggests that Lent is a time for community and individual preparation to follow Jesus on the most difficult of paths - the path of self-sacrificing love. At Stone Church, we will have an Ash Wednesday service on February 25th at 7:30 pm, during which you will be able to participate in the ancient and solemn tradition of the "Imposition of Ashes."
Holy Week is the commemoration of the week in which Jesus entered Jerusalem and faced death. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday (this year, April 4th), the day marking Jesus' entrance into the city. At Stone Church, we will celebrate Palm Sunday (at our regular 9:30 am worship service) by singing loud "Hosannas" and waving palm branches.
On Maundy Thursday (this year, April 8th), the poignant moment of the Last Supper is observed. On this night, Christians remember that Jesus washed his disciples feet, instituted the Lord's Supper, and gave a new commandment of love; and then he was then betrayed by one of his disciples. The term, Maundy, comes from the Gospel of John, verse 13:34, "Mandatum novum do vobis," which means, "A new commandment I give you: Love one another." At Stone Church, we will venerate this most solemn and reverent of events with a tenebrae (Latin for "darkness") service, during which sacred texts are read, hymns sung, and the candles and lights of the church are gradually extinguished until the church is in total darkness.
Witnessing Jesus' death on the cross on Good Friday (this year, April 9th) is the ultimate reminder of the cost of discipleship. At Stone Church, the sanctuary will be open from noon to 3 pm. Intermittent musical offerings and bulletins with devotional readings will be provided to enable you to reflect amidst song and silence.
Lent is a time of intensive spiritual preparation for all of us. It is a time to face the world in its reality - its temptations, its shadows, its seductions, and its betrayals. We pray and engage in spiritual preparation to follow Jesus faithfully to the end. We open ourselves to Jesus' love.
Lent and Holy Week Schedule
Ash Wednesday Service -- February 25 at 7:30 pm
Taizé Services -- March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and April 6 at 6:45 pm
Palm Sunday Service -- April 4 at 9:30 am
Maundy Thursday Service -- April 8 at 7:30 pm
Good Friday Service-- April 9 from 12-3 pm
Easter Sunday Services -- April 11 at 9:30 am and 11 am
Lenten Taize Services: An Opportunity for Mediation and Contemplation
Stone Church invites you to set aside time for our Taize services during the liturgical season of Lent. Come, rest in the quiet of our sanctuary, take time to sit and listen, incline your hearts, pray and sing with us as we journey toward Easter.
The sanctuary doors are open at 6:30 pm so you may enter to listen to contemplative music in preparation for worship, and the service begins at 6:45 pm. Join us as we experience and deepen our faith through silence, song, prayer, and meditation.
Stone Church Choir Shines in Interfaith Choral Concert
On Sunday, February 8th, the Stone Church Choir, along with several other church choirs, participated in an "Interfaith Choral Concert," at the Campbell United Methodist Church. The concert raised about $7,000 for InnVision, the organization that administers our annual rotating housing program. The Council of Churches generously matched all contributions.
The other choirs that participated were from churches - Antioch Baptist, Prince of Peace Lutheran, and Campbell United Methodist Church - that actively support the rotating housing program. Each church sang some anthems alone, and then the combined choirs sang at the beginning, middle, and end of the program.
Donald Foster conducted the Stone Church anthems. Other Stone members singing and/or providing accompaniment included Miriam Rowan, Thea Mills, Karen Scott, Rod Thorn, Bob Johnson, Walter and Debbie Roach, Hilleguus Faber, Kate Wheatley, Jerry Pearson, Holly Kane, Jerry Keifer, Leonard Lewis, Janice Goertz, Derk Johnson, and Fred and Lizanne Oliver.
Rev. Walter Hudson and Rev. Marge Palmer lead Adult Study Classes
The following Adult Study classes, held from 11 am to noon on Sundays, continue through March 28. Please don't let childcare concerns keep you from these informative and exciting learning experiences - childcare and infant care are readily available, with a little advance notice.
Why People Leave the Church But Still Love Jesus and What We Can Learn from Them (leader: Rev. Walter Hudson). This class explores one of the great paradoxes uncovered in recent church research: when asking why some folks stay and some go, long-term research has shown that it is more often the most dedicated and liveliest church folks who vanish, not those looking for a casual Sunday morning experience. Using two papers and open discussion, we will strive to hear the affected and the disaffected, and let them speak their minds on the matter of, "What is driving me out of (or keeping me in) church participation?" Rev. Walter Hudson is Parish Associate at First Presbyterian Church, San Jose, and is a frequent leader of adult classes at First Church and Stone. He is the husband of Stone Church member, Deborah Crim.
The Bible From Scratch: The New Testament for Beginners (leader: Rev. Marge Palmer). Have you ever been instructed to look up a Bible passage, and you weren't quite sure where to look? Have you ever considered attending an adult education class at Stone, but thought of many reasons not to go because you were sure you would feel out of place? Do you need an overview of the whole Bible and some basic tools and skills for Bible study? Perhaps you are a young parent who has not had the time to open the Bible, let alone study it. Perhaps you are a new member who has never attended adult education at Stone - then, this is the Bible study for you. Rev. Marge Palmer, a retired Presbyterian minister, is Stone Church's Parish Associate.
Rev. Dale Bracey Travels to El Salvador as Mission Delegate
Dale Bracey, a retired Presbyterian minister who worships at Stone Church, will travel to El Salvador in March with the South Bay Sanctuary Covenant. Five members of the delegation will arrive earlier to be election observers for national presidential elections. The full delegation will then focus on meeting with political leaders, the American ambassador, economic development groups, and the Presbyterian coffee program. The visit coincides with the anniversary of the assasination of Archbishop Romero, which will be marked in an ecumenical mass.
The delegation will then travel to two rural villages where the Sanctuary Covenant has been working to provide education resources, to drill wells for clean water, to assist in rebuilding after floods, and to provision a medical clinic. The delegates will stay with families in these villages.
Dale says, "I feel honored to be part of this interdenominational mission group that has made such a difference in this poor country since the late 70s and 80s, when our American government supported deadly right-wing juntas who terrorized and exploited the people. Not fully knowing what to expect now, I go to learn, to listen to people, and to represent Christians in tin solidarity."
Dale is eager for opportunities to report and share his impressions when he returns in April. Please feel free to contact him to meet with any group, or if you can provide medical supplies for the clinic or simple children's puzzles and books in Spanish.
Facilities Task Force Update
The physical reconstruction of Stone Church's aging facility will begin in mid-April. The Kairos Center and the nursery will be moved out of Lincoln House prior to April 18, so the conversion of Lincoln House to the new church office can begin. The Nursery moves to Room 6 downstairs, where it will remain until the entire facility renovation is complete (anticipated to be before the end of 2004). The new Lincoln House church office should be completed by July.
A number of activities are required, and are being completed, prior to the actual construction work.
A meeting was held with the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association on February 11 at which Bill Gould Design presented the general design concept, with emphasis on exterior changes. Approximately 25 people attended; all questions and concerns were answered to the satisfaction of the attendees.
As required by City Planning, a meeting will be held in early March with church neighbors who live within approximately 500 feet of the church (that is, the area bounded by Newport, Malone, Glen Una, and Laurie) to inform them as to the planned construction work; in particular, the length of the construction period, the hours of operation, noise, and any other potential temporary inconveniences.
And, finally, Bill Gould Design will present the plans for both Lincoln House and the main church building to the City Planning Commission at its March 24th meeting.
Last year, the Deacons made a decision to move the Senior Picnic from the autumn to the spring, to spread out the time between the Senior Christmas Tea and the Senior Picnic. Now, instead of the traditional autumn picnic, we're busy planning the first annual Senior Spring Picnic.
The theme of this year's event is "Fashion Parade Down Memory Lane," so get out your blue suede shoes, your zoot suit, or your stone martin stole, and practice drawing that "seam" on the back of your leg, ladies! If you've saved some vintage clothes that you would be willing to show, model, or have someone else model (very carefully), please contact Caprice Scarborough.
This inaugural event will take place from 2 - 5 pm on Sunday, April 25, amidst the lush green and blooming flora of historic Kelley Park. We've reserved picnic space outside - if our luck holds - and inside the historic Firehouse in case of rain. Rides will be available, and more details will be coming soon. Watch for your invitation in the mail next month and announcements in the church bulletin.
Thanks and New Requests from Church and World Board
Mission Participation Forms
Boxes for collecting Inventory of Mission Participation forms are located in the narthex and in the church office. We encourage you to complete and return these forms so the Church and World Board can get a better understanding of the mission activities that attract the support of Stone Church members.
Father Chacour to speak at Sunnyvale Presbyterian
Father Elias Chacour, the Melkite Catholic Bishop-elect of Jerusalem, will speak at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, on Sunday, April 18, at 7 pm. This event is sponsored by the Pilgrims of Ibillin, a United States-based support group for the Mar Elias Educational Institution (MEEI). This year, Stone Church's Church and World Board is contributing $400 to this non-profit organization. Please look for more information next month.
Other Mission Projects
The Church and World Board continues to work with a variety of very deserving, well-respected organizations that need our support. Here are brief reports of some of their worthy activities, including some new requests for help.
Bill Wilson Center Clothing Drive -- The January 18th drive for clothes for the Bill Wilson Center produced donations that filled several vans and helped many young people. Thank you for responding so generously to this need that arose from the agency's recent fire.
Refugee Ministry Needs Donations -- If you would like to donate basic furniture items, housewares, dishes, pans, etc., the Church and World Board encourages you to consider the Refugee Ministry of the San Jose Presbytery. For full details, please call our own Bill Palmer (395-0916), who is coordinator for the Presbytery, or Francisco at Catholic Charities (468-0100), our partner in this effort.
Albertson's Community Partner Program -- If you sometimes shop at Albertson's and are not a Community Partner, please consider registering so a small portion of the money you spend will go to InnVision. There is no cost to you. Sue Williams has registration cards.
Local Agencies Selected -- The Church and World Board recently selected the local agencies to be supported by Stone Church's 2004 budget. For details, please see the C & W bulletin board near the kitchen.
Growing Children and Youth Who Care
One of the things our church can do to help parents is in teaching their children and youth to respond to God's invitation and care more deeply about God and others.
* The workshops for kindergarten through grade 5 during February are focusing on the "Parable of the Great Feast," learning that God invites everyone to be God's people, and that we need to decide how we'll respond. In addition to inviting friends to come to church school for the great feast they prepare, they are considering whether their excuses for missing on Sundays are as "lame" as those given in the parable! (Check out Luke 14:15-24.) God wants us to be here to worship and learn!
* They are also learning to care about those in need outside our church. With the support of the church family, they gave and raised $1750 in 2003 to buy almost 12 llamas through Heifer International, and in 2004 they have voted to use 1/3 of their offering and raise money for goats. In addition, each church school class provided a welcome back pack for a refugee in our area. The Middle School class sponsored "Souper Bowl Sunday" and delivered 107 cans of soup and other food items to the Second Harvest Food Bank and $57 to a local soup kitchen. On March 7, students will receive One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) fish banks and sharing calendars. Parents need to help them save money in their OGHS banks as well as to learn to bring an offering regularly. The banks will be collected on Palm Sunday, April 4, 2004.
* On March 28 and April 4 (Palm Sunday), church school students will learn about Jesus' Last Week and do a special project to use with their families through Holy Week. Studies have shown that as young people grow up, they remember and benefit greatly from chances to talk about the Christian faith with their parents. Parents are urged to use this project as an opportunity to talk with their family about what happened to Jesus and what his death and resurrection mean to us as Christians. Then, Easter will give you a wonderful opportunity to worship and celebrate together!
Parents, we want to help you raise young people who grow into faithful, caring people. How will you respond to this invitation?
Mark your calendars for the next Men's Book Club meeting on March 15th at 7:30 pm at the home of Gary Weiss. In preparation, read Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown. We will not meet in April but will read Engaging the Powers by Walter Wink for discussion in May.
You are welcome to participate in the discussion of one or another of these books.. We meet in each other's homes approximately every other month. The books we choose reflect the varied interests of the participants. If you would like more information, please contact Bill Gum or Bill Ribble.
Annual Valentine Tea
Stone Church's Presbyterian Women and guests enjoyed the PW Annual Valentine Tea on Thursday, February 12th. Sapphire Circle members prepared and served a delicious raspberry dessert to guests sitting at tables decorated with camellias and candy hearts.
Donaldina Cameron, superintendent of the Presbyterian Mission Home, Cameron House, in San Francisco, was the topic presented by Holly Tabor, a member of First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto. Holly's friend, Laura Farrel, owns Donaldina Cameron's former home in Palo Alto where Donaldina resided after her retirement in 1934 until her death in 1968. This connection piqued Holly's interest in Donaldina Cameron, and she shared some of her research, stories, and Laura's pictures with us. We all have a deeper appreciation for Donaldina Cameron and her mission work rescuing Chinese girls from slavery and prostitution. Ask a Presbyterian Woman to tell you about the rescue in Palo Alto in 1900. Donaldina Cameron was a truly remarkable woman!
PW in the Synod (PWS)
Presbyterian Women in the Synod (PWS) builds community, affirms women's calls to leadership, raises issues and concerns, and channels information to and from PW in the Presbytery and the Church-wide Coordinating Team. Leadership terms are limited to three years. Meetings are open to all women and occur at least every three years, but can occur more frequently.
Calendar for March
Tuesday, March 2 - Focus Group meets at June Tablak's home, at 9:30 am.
Wednesday, March 3 - Amethyst Circle meets in the Church Library at 1 pm. Jeanette Clemenco is hostess, and Evelyn Radunich leads lesson # 7 in Horizon's Study Book.
Thursday, March 4 - Emerald Circle meets at Carolyn Clendenning's home, at 9:30 am.
Monday, March 8 - Sapphire Circle meets at Audrey Clark's home, at 7:30 pm. Dulcie Janzen leads the lesson.
Tuesday, March 9 - Lunch Bunch meets at Taiwan Restaurant, Lincoln Ave., at 11:30 am.
Thursday, March 11 - PW Coordinating Team meets in the Church Library at 9:30 am.
Monday, March 15 - Book Club I meets at Carolyn Clendenning's home, at 1 pm. Book to be reviewed is Dance of the Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd.
Monday, March 15 - Book Club II meet at Claudia Hamm's home. Book to be reviewed is Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, by Elaine Pagels.
Thursday, March 25 - Enjoy Bible Study with Marge Palmer from 9:30 to 11:30 am. in the Church Library.