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Pastoral Letter, January 16, 2023

To the Saints in San Carlos


Monday afternoon it looks like the skies have cleared. Except for a chance of rain tomorrow, it looks like clear skies ahead for the next ten days.


Church council met after church yesterday. My brief notes follow at bottom.


In brief, we have some clear skies ahead for our church as well, for our financial picture has improved. Continue to pray for an increase in membership - invite your friends and neighbors to church - and for people to step up to help our current church leadership, as so many people have helped us with our finances over the past year. Be thankful for the members of the Lions Club, Fully Alive Church and Children's Place who have helped us out. And a special thank you to moderator Siv, who works tirelessly to keep our church going. If you have some time to spare, think of a way to help Siv, even if it's just a prayer, a phone call, an encouraging word or running an errand.


Next Sunday's sermon will be based on Chapter Four of Matthew's Gospel, where he writes:


Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper'na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb'ulun and Naph'tali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -- the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying,

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Indeed, we who have sat in rain and darkness have seen some light. I hope we all get out, get some sunshine this week and come to church to share the joy and good news.


Yesterday's sermon follows these council meeting notes.


Council Meeting January 15, 2023

11:50 AM called to order

Opened with prayer.


Minutes of Dec. 4 meeting approved.


Financial report of church administrator Gwen accepted.


Everyone looked at budget sent from Gwen the previous week. Last year's projected deficit was somewhere around $100,000; this year it is somewhere under $30,000.


All present voted to approve the proposed budget and send it to annual meeting for final approval on January 29.


Siv asked for volunteers to help people in church offices. Everyone currently serving as a church office has been doing so for quite a while and could use some assistance.


We still have $57,000 in collateral with Cornerstone; we can take $7,000 out


Tom reported on problems with the furnace. After paying furnace technician approx. $900, the furnace did not work on Sunday morning for Fully Alive. Tom, Gwen, Siv will contact furnace repair.


We will receive a bid for new doors for Mahany Hall.


Saturday, January 28th the Lions Club will host a Crab Feed in Mahany Hall.


Mahany Hall Fundraiser will take place March 11. We need volunteers to help. Please contact Siv, who will give you something to do.


Adjourned 12:45

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

January 15, 2023

San Carlos Community Church


Our lesson for today, the Second Sunday after Epiphany, is the end of what we call the Christmas Story or the Infancy Narratives and with it we bid a reluctant, but final farewell to the Christmas season. Perhaps you have said farewell already, but in this northern clime I believe it is permissible to hold on to Christmas a bit longer because we need the sweets and candles, we need to hear the stories of angels bending near the earth, of angels appearing to shepherds, of wise men coming from far away bearing gifts, of God joining us here on earth.


We need to hear of something mysterious entering our lives. We need to hear the story of God becoming human in the language of a fairy or fantasy novel or medieval romance. We need to know that we are not alone on this earth, that there are other presences hovering with us and that presence makes a difference.


The best parts of the Bible read like a fairy tale or a story told by Shakespeare or by J. R. R. Tolkien and that is not an insult that is high praise. The Bible is not a pile of statistics; it is not a report compiled by experts with advanced degrees; it is not a news story written by usually reliable sources. It is a story told by people overwhelmed by angels, by divine messengers, by the surprising and overwhelming presence of God.


So let’s go through this final story of Christmas, in the King James version, in the language of Shakespeare’s time, line by line and see what we have.


Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Herod was mocked of the wise men and was exceeding wroth. The Greek word translated as mocked can also be translated as fooled or tricked. The Greek word for enraged or wroth implies that the insides of his ribcage were on fire.


And he gave orders to kill all children under two in the vicinity of Bethlehem.


Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted."

These lines refer back to Jeremiah 31:15 and back beyond that to Genesis Chapters 29 through 35, which tells the story of Jacob and his two wives and twelve sons, who became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.


Rachel was the second wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph. Rachel died while giving birth on the road to Bethlehem. In the midst of her suffering, the midwife tried to comfort her with the news that she was having another son. In this way, her child is both her cause of weeping and her hope for the future.


She died in the town of Ramah, which many hundreds of years later, is where the Babylonian conquerors gathered the Hebrew prisoners to send them to Babylon.


So in Jeremiah's day, Rachel, the mother of Joseph and all of Israel, weeps over her children once more, this time because they - her thousands of descendents - are being led into captivity and exile near the very spot where she is buried. She is then comforted with the promise that her children will return.

In Matthew's day, Rachel weeps yet again: this time over the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem.

No words of comfort are given her in Matthew, but the very next verse speaks of Herod's death and the return of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to the land of Israel. Just as in Jeremiah's day, the situation seems bleak, but the hope of salvation lives on.

In the Bible there is often tragedy, but it is always followed by comfort, for Lo, Saint Matthew tell us:

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

Just as Joseph, the son of Rachel, went to Egypt and eventually returned to Israel, so does Jesus go to Egypt and eventually returns. As the Egyptian Pharaoh ordered the slaughter of the Hebrew children; and Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian, ordered them into captivity; and Herod ordered the slaughter of still more children, something good comes out of it. No matter how much wickedness people do, no matter how much tragedy occurs, God always works some kind of good to follow. The light shines in the darkness.

This is the way of the Bible, of many fairy tales and the way of life.

The Biblical writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw that there is a pattern in life, that God fulfills his promises even though wicked people try with all their might to thwart it. In our story today, we see how Jesus fulfilled this ancient pattern of wrong eventually righted; the life of Jesus breaks this pattern and remakes it; and so we today have hope that all the broken parts of our lives are being remade, every day, into a beautiful new mosaic.



Jeremiah 31:15-17; 23-25

Thus says the LORD: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not." Thus says the LORD: "Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:

"Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities,

when I restore their fortunes:

`The LORD bless you, O habitation of righteousness, O holy hill!' And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish."

Matthew 2:16-23

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

- Pastor Richard Hyde Community Church of San Carlos https://www.facebook.com/communitychurchsancarlos/

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