by Cathy Haig
Have you ever promised yourself at Christmas that next year it would be less frenzied and more meaningful? For me, this is that “next” year. Maybe it is for you also during this pandemic year. Without all the Advent and Christmas choral activities and decorations in the church, I’ve had time to reflect on the event at the center of the celebration. For me it’s there that the essential, most profound Christmas therapy lies: in the meaning and mystery of Jesus’ birth.
I invite you now to reflect on some of the things that I’ve thought about. Christmas is more that a deadline or a day on the calendar. It is a journey of the spirit – from darkness to light, from chaos to peace, from separateness to the union of life.
I’ve seen more outdoor lights this year. In this season of lights, enjoy the external sparkle, and then let that outer radiance point you to the inner Light of Christmas that dwells in your own heart. Christmas is God’s feast for the senses! Observe its shimmering sights, inhale its aromatic smells, hear it resonating sounds on the radio, YouTube, and movies on TV. Let those sounds and smells flow to your inner being. Make time for your favorite expressions of Christmas lore and reflect on their changing meaning for you over the years. I remember one Christmas where we had the most magnificent dinner with friends. Everyone was full to the brim and it wasn’t until mum and I took the dirty dishes to the kitchen that we realized we had completely forgotten Christmas potatoes that were still in the pan on the stove. Everyone had a good laugh over that and remembered it years later.
When, in this pandemic the season’s commercialism becomes too oppressive, place yourself in spirit in the simple and earthly surroundings of Jesus’ birth. Remind yourself what really matters. During this time of enchantment and anticipation for children, reflect on the child within you. What does your inner child especially cherish about this season? What gifts would your child within like to have? If this Christmas season is not all it was in former years, remember that in God’s time all the joy and wonder of the past are present in this moment too. Happiness once experienced is yours forever. Christmas is God’s affirmation of the goodness of being human. Honour the sacredness of your own humanity by experiencing life deeply and passionately. Lastly in your Christmas therapy: feel and believe in the true meaning of Christmas – Divine love embracing the world, the longing for Infinity, and life infused with Mystery. Store the meaning in your soul all year long.
Until further notice we will not be holding in person Sunday Services. A recorded service will be posted on Facebook and YouTube at 8 am on Sundays. Monday through Friday there is a Zoom Compline service at 7 pm. On Monday we have a Zoom Morning Prayer service at 9:30. We are also looking into outdoor services.
On Sunday, December 6th, we will reopen the church. We will have a service at 8:00 AM in the Parish Hall and 10:00 AM in the church. As you know, our facilities were closed for two weeks because a person attended the church who later tested positive for Covid 19. I am thankful that no one else has tested positive. For that reason, I remind you that everyone must wear a mask and stay socially distant while attending services. I also wish to share with you that I will change the way we distribute communion to help protect everyone. Communion will be distributed after the service outside the buildings. Thank you for your understanding. The 10:00 service will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook. You may also watch it later in the day or during the week.
We have entered the season of Advent, a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus. This Sunday we will light the candle of peace on the Advent wreath. We ask God to bring us peace in all things.
I ask your prayers for those who have contracted the virus and for all the health care workers who are helping people in hospitals. Let us pray that everyone will be safe and healthy. We pray for those who are unemployed or hungry or are in need of housing. We pray for children.
Stewardship Campaign. I am thankful for everyone who has supported Transfiguration with their pledge for 2021. If you have not yet returned your pledge,I ask you to prayerfully consider how you might help Transfiguration. Fr. Bob
Although this year we cannot sponsor the Angel Tree for Brinton School, ECW has learned that they would love to receive books and board games. If you wish to contribute, please bring donations in by December 8. You may leave them in the Church, Parish Hall or the Parish House on Sunday or Monday through Thursday.
I am working on a plan to have some Sunday services outside. We will do this to keep everyone safe as the number of COVID-19 cases increase. I am looking for an amplifier to use for outside services. Let us know if you can help. Please look for updates in future emails. Fr. Bob
Episcopal Calendars for 2021 and copies of the December newsletter are available to pick up in the Church and Parish Hall. Thanks to Dea Podhajsky, newsletter editor, and all who contributed articles to the publication.
Cans and plastic recycling may be brought to the Parish House and left in designatedbins in the garage.
Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito, Mexico. A couple of years ago, Transfiguration provided funds to supply the boys and girls club with computers for the children. In addition to all the other uses of these computers, the children have now started a pen pal exchange with children in Florida. The club now needs contributions to stay open. If you would like to assist, please give a gift to the church with a memo line entry "Rosarito Boys and Girls Club". Chris Whitehead will deliver the gifts to the club. If you wish to find out more about the club or wish to give directly you can do so at the following internet link: https://www.clubrosarito.org/ Thank you in advance. Father Bob
Our Vestry Contact is Bob Wilk. His number is 480-450-5401.
If you know someone who could use soup, please stop by the office. It has been made available by The Lords Soup Kitchen workers.
Topic: Transfiguration Coffee Hour Sunday at 11:15 a.m.
We plan to use the same ID and password for all future ZOOM Coffee Hours
See the Thursday email for the link.
Suggested donations next week for the Food Bank are canned vegetables, instant potatoes, rice.
Food & Supply delivery is available: Several Good Samaritans have stepped forward to help our members who are stuck at home. We understand that some basic supplies like toilet paper and paper towels are once again in short supply. If you need help finding food or supplies that can be delivered to your house, please call the office at 480-986-1145 and we will ask one of our volunteers to help.
A message from Christ Whitehead: We would love for you to join our Rosartio, Mexico group on Sunday. Our Mission St Mary Magdalene service is at 10 a.m. Pacific Time which would be 11 a.m. Arizona time. https://missionstmarymagdalene.net/
Tuesday, December 8 is the next work day for the Lord’s Soup Kitchen.
Tuesday, December 8 at 10:00 a.m. we will offer Bible Study via ZOOM to discuss the book Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Paul Wesley Chilcote. Copies may be available this Wednesday. If you wish to meet in person to discuss this book, please call me. Fr. Bob
Sunday, December 13-Cookie distribution: ECW is planning to hold a free cookie distribution. Free cookies will be available in the parking lot between services.
December 20 Christmas Celebration: Plans are underway to deliver a Christmas bag to parishioners who are staying at home. We are also discussing a church get-together in the parking lot with everyone who can attend after the bags are delivered. Please contact Linda in the office or Fr. Bob if you wish to receive a bag or if you can help with them.
A blog by Dea Podhajsky
Today my Spanish Duolingo streak reached 200 days. On 90% of those days I have also walked. I live at the base of the Superstition Mountains in an area our realtor described as horse properties. Lots are one acre and although most roads are paved, there are neither sidewalks nor streetlights. There have been days when I have seen no vehicles during my walk. Instead I encounter coyotes, deer, horses, javelinas, rabbits, lizards, birds, and other walkers
Walkers who walk on the wrong side of the road annoy me. The rule is clear. Pedestrians walk against traffic. There are reasons for this. Walkers can establish eye contact with an approaching motorist which increases their ability to make quick judgements which in turn enhances their safety. Researchers found that pedestrians walking against traffic have on average a 77 percent lower risk of being struck and injured by a car. Why then do people walk on the wrong side of the street? Are they reckless? Are they ignorant? Are they anarchists? Are they purposely trying to annoy me? Is one side of the road more esthetically pleasing to them than the other?
Perhaps it is the lack of distractions or the rhythmic, repetition of my footfalls but walking makes my mind go walkabout. One day my mind wandered from why not all people walk against traffic to a post that was trending on social media.
The post speculated on why some people fail to return their grocery carts to the designated collection point in the parking lot. The post theorized that what people did with their shopping cart was a test of whether they would do right in other circumstances without being forced. The tweet stated, “No one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart, no one will fine you, or kill you for not returning the cart . . . You must return the shopping cart because it is the right thing to do, because it is correct.”
For years I taught with a man who had vastly different views from mine on issues ranging from teaching practices to politics. He often reminded me during our discussions on civil rights, women’s rights, and students’ rights that with rights come responsibilities. Rights, according to my colleague, are freedoms we have that are protected by our laws, while responsibilities are duties or things that we should do to be good citizens or members of a community.
My walk offers me a great view of the Praying Hands formation in the Superstition Mountains. I always stop when I walk by to admire the beauty of God’s creation and to raise up the name of my secret prayer sister to the Lord. One such pause was the catalyst for another mind detour. Rights are a term for societies created by men. God, however, does not bestow us with rights; rather he gives blessings. The biggest blessing is his unconditional love.
Frequently, I have attended meetings with a man who was falsely accused and convicted of murder. He was released through the diligent work Arizona’s equivalent of the Innocence Project. At a recent event while discussing his life story and his current work of helping others who have suffered injustice he said, “I do not own my blessings.”
God’s unconditional love is our ultimate blessing. What then is our corresponding responsibility? The Bible provides an answer. In it we read, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”.
But there are other responsibilities we have for the blessings we have received that would be the secular equivalent of returning our shopping carts or walking on the correct side of the road. Stewardship is one of these. Churches depend on the generosity of their parishioners to provide money to support programs, to fund salaries, and to cover overhead.
I believe in free will. Walkers are not predestined to walk on the wrong side of the road. Fate does not determine whether people return their shopping cart. Why then do people act as they do? Scientists, writers, philosophers, and theologians have considered that question for centuries. Transfiguration is currently having its stewardship drive. We will be asked to pledge for next year. Pledges allow the vestry to construct a budget. Pledges income allows Transfiguration to continue to carry on God’s work. Not pledging, has no obvious negative consequences. You will continue to be welcomed and loved. You will still be a valued part of the church family.
Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, believed that when we act out of duty and do something simply because it is right, the deed then and only then has moral worth. Returning one’s shopping cart, walking against traffic, and filling out the pledge card fall into Kant’s definition of actions with moral worth. When the pledge card arrives, you will have a decision to make. As you reflect on whether to pledge or not think about the good that will come from you pledge, remember God’s blessings to you, and reflect on the moral duty of being part of a community. The choice as always is yours.
Juan 3:16 por Dios amó al mundo, que dio a su único hijo. The 200 days weren’t completely wasted.
Episcopal Church of Transfiguration Mesa, AZ
August 11, 2020
- Call to order
The meeting was called to Order by Fr. Bob Saik.
- Roll call
The following vestry members were in attendance: Heidi Kinney, Catherine Schuyler, , Pam Mack Jo Laslo, Karl Shepstead , Bob Wilk. Also, in attendance were Bob Saik, Rector, Lynn Graff, Senior Warden and Pat Mack, Junior Warden. The meeting was conducted via Zoom.
he minutes of the July14, 2020 meeting were approved.
- Financial Reports (previously distributed) were discussed.
- Father Bob highlighted the following:
- Payroll Protection Plan money will be used to fund salaries, and Rector’s pension and medical insurance
- Because of changes in the guidelines related to Payroll Protection Plan money there was an overpayment to the diocese.
- Pledge contributions are close to the budget amount. Visitor and plate revenues are down. The Payroll Protection Plan money has compensated for this loss of revenue.
- The line item for office phone includes internet services.
- Fire protection is a yearly expense. Refuse is a quarterly expense.
- Our Fund Balances fluctuate based on the stock market.
- The financial report was approved subject to audit.
- Reports from Ministries
- Women’s Ministry Report was included in packet.
- Social Media Report was included in packet.
- Junior Warden Report: Pat Mack
- Weekly and monthly maintenance was completed.
- The installation of touchless fixtures has been completed.
- The installation of the sign on University and Mountain is complete.
- Sheds for the ECW were investigated with Jo Laslo, ECW, and Fr Bob Saik.
- The ramp to the parish house will be repaired using steel.
- Senior Warden’s Report was given by Lynn Graff who commended everyone who is working hard to keep the church vibrant.
- Rector’s Reflections was given by Fr. Bob Saik
- The time off discussed at the Ju;y meeting was taken.
- Although the number of Covid cases is decreasing no new directions from the Bishop have been given.
- The Deanery will meet to discuss virtual stewardship drives.
- A review of the package deliveries to parishioners for the Feast of Transfiguration was given. Thanks were given to all who worked on the project. Vestry members who delivered packages said that the deliveries had gone smoothly, and people were appreciative. Fr Saik said that positive responses had been received by him and the office staff.
- Farewell to Gordon Noyes: Gordon will be moving to Massachusetts in August. He was thanked for his service on the vestry.
- Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned.
Minutes submitted by Dea Podhajsky
The cross of Christ has a depth of meaning that makes it hard to describe. It can be different to each person and the meaning can change based on what is happening in each person’s life. Regardless of the meaning, it marks us as a beloved child of God.
The Daughters of the King all wear a cross, a specially designed cross, as part of their commitment to follow Christ. The members are active individually and as a group in the church through service, prayer, and evangelism. It is easy to identify a Daughter of the King anywhere in the world because we wear our cross daily. Below are listed some of the comments about the cross from members of the Daughters of the King at Transfiguration.
“When I think of the cross, what comes to my mind is love; God’s love for us as individuals and God’s love for all of us collectively as part of God’s creation. Knowing that I am one of His children and will always be loved by Him no matter what I do is so comforting. I also think about the sacrifice God made for us and yet how He is always there for us.” Jan S.
“I have been a member of the Daughters of the King for over 30 years. Each day, as I put on my cross, I am reminded that Jesus is always beside me . . . to comfort, guide, and sustain, as we all work to spread God’s love in this world.” Nancy R.
“I love wearing it because it reminds me of the bond of love through Jesus Christ for all of our sisters both local and world wide and the privilege we have to pray for each other!” Miriam W.
“The cross is where Jesus suffered and died. Though gruesome, it is very special. God says He loved us so much that He gave His only son to die in our place. I lost my youngest son 8 years ago. It was hard enough to watch him die . . . but I cannot imagine choosing to let him die . . . to die in someone else’s place. But that is what Jesus did for us. I was the one who sinned. I deserved to be up there, not Jesus. He took my place. I owe Him my whole life! So, the cross is a beautiful reminder of my Saviour and what He went through so I can be reconciled to Him. It also is empty. Jesus did not stay dead but rose again! He is now alive in heaven, watching out for me, and someday I will go to be with Him in heaven. So, yes . . . the cross means everything! Mari F.
“For me, the cross is a touch stone, a physical reminder of God’s presence with us and His gifts to us. Putting on the cross each day is representative of putting on the ‘armor of God’ so that we are equipped to do His work. Seeing people wear a cross says that we are all connected, linked by history, traditions, beliefs, and a way of life. We are “one body with many different parts”, making us capable of being the church, the body of Christ here on earth.” Lynn G.
Episcopal Church of Transfiguration Mesa, AZ
June 9, 2020
- Call to order
The meeting was called to Order by Fr. Bob Saik.
- Roll call
The following vestry members were in attendance: Heidi Kinney, Catherine Schuyler, Gordon Noyes(2021), Pam Mack Jo Laslo Karl Shepstead , Bob Wilk,). Also, in attendance were Bob Saik, Rector, Lynn Graff, Senior Warden and Pat Mack, Junior Warden
Approval of Minutes The minutes of the April XX, 2020 meeting were approved.
- Financial Reports (previously distributed) were discussed.
- It was moved and seconded that the financial report be approved.
- Transfiguration, through the Diocese, has received a loan under the Payroll Protection Act. The loan will not have to be repaid as Transfiguration is still paying the staff on its payroll.
- Reports from Ministries
- Women’s Ministry Report was given by Jo Laslo.
- Social Media Report was submitted in writing.
- Junior Warden’s Report was given by Fr. Bob Saik.
- Landscaping work has been ongoing. Weeds in the back were removed
- Walt Devonshire has finished the painting of the stanchions.
- The ECW shed has been removed.
- Pew cushions have been removed from the church for hygienic reasons in anticipation of in person services.
- Senior Warden’s Report was given by Lynn Graff. Lynn provided a list of positive things that are happening. Her list follows:
- We are still the church.
- We have a diverse online presence which is working.
- Our outreach efforts are continuing.
- The phone tree is effective in reaching our members.
- Rector’s Report was given by Fr. Bob Saik
- The last newsletter featured stories about parishioners and how they find joy in the time of Pandemic.
- The church cannot reopen until May 30th at the earliest.
- Open Issues
- The vestry via email approved two items.
- The purchase of a new sign for University and Mountain.
- A transfer of money to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund.
- A discussion on the reopening of the church was held.
- Bob and Sr. Warden Lynn Graff attended a meeting on the reopening of churches in the diocese.
- The Bishop and a task force have created a Three Phase Plan for reopening.
- An oral summary of the plan was provided.
- Before a parish can begin to have in person services a local plan must be submitted and approved by the diocese.
- Vestry members gave input on reopening.
- Pat Gutsch, Jo Laslo, and Catherine Schuyler volunteered to serve on the Parish committee on reopening.
- The vestry expressed its desire to continue food distribution assistance.
- WiFi is now available throughout the campus.
- The vestry via email approved two items.
Fr. Bob Saik adjourned the meeting.
Minutes submitted by: Dea Podhajsky
by Dea Podhajsky
The mayor of my town recently issued a proclamation on masks. He refused to mandate their use citing individual freedom as his rationale. When I was a sophomore our English teacher decided that what our high school needed was a debate team. Trying to ingratiate myself to her, I went to the introductory meeting.
There were only two of us– me and Mike Meyers. Mike was not interested in debate, his parents made him attend. I, however, was interested in Mike. I had fantasies of nights working on our case. He had fantasies of heading to Colorado to ski.
We were the least prepared debate team in the state of Iowa. When we got the judges’ comments from our first and only appearance in competition, they were filled with examples of the fallacies, we had used to cover our lazy ineptitude: Begging the question, hasty generalizations, non sequitur, bandwagon , ad hominin and the one employed by the mayor either/or.
This fallacy occurs when one builds an argument upon the assumption that there are only two choices or possible outcomes when there are more. The mayor assumed that individual liberty equated to a no mask mandates. There are limits on personal liberties which the mayor must be aware of. We are mandated to wear seat belts. We are mandated to have driver’s licenses. We are taught that crying fire in a crowded theater is not appropriate.
The idea that one is either for something or against it contributes to the toxic divisions that define our times. Issues including abortion, gun control, immigration, police reform, removal of statues, and systemic racism, see us retreating to our corners. We have bought into the idea that nuance is surrender.
The mayor next wrote, “If you feel at risk, then stay home.” If/then statements on their face are preferable to either/or statements. There is a choice. However, the mayor constructed only one of several if/then statements that could have been appropriate. He might have said, “If you feel you can’t wear a mask, then stay home” or “If you are uncomfortable in a store that does not require masks, then take your money and shop in the neighboring town where masks are required.
Religion like politics has its either/ors and if/thens. An example is worship as I do or go to hell or everyone knows the Bible is a metaphor and can’t be read literally. And then there are the determinists who believe that all events that happen are pre-ordained, and/or predestined to happen which is the ultimate either or.
Recently I found the following list of if/then statements on emergingmama.com
If Jesus is Lord, then how must I respond to refugees?
If Jesus is Lord, then how must I treat all neighbors?
If Jesus is Lord, then telling the truth is important.
If Jesus is Lord, then stealing from or deceiving others is wrong.
If Jesus is Lord, then my allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.
If Jesus is Lord, then we are all one in Christ Jesus and have no divisions.
If Jesus is Lord, then all life has intrinsic worth given by the Creator.
If Jesus is Lord, then I must resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
If Jesus is Lord, then I must serve him as my Lord, in union with the Church
We need to learn to listen and reflect. We need to be less arrogant in our positions. We need to remember we are called to love our enemies.
But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44.
It’s on us.
O God the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice and truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen BOCP #7