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Pastoral Letter, June 16, 2023

June 16, 2023

To the Saints in San Carlos and Environs:


This week features more daylight, warming temperatures and the feeling that summer will go on forever and forever.  In the Christian calendar it is Pentecost, which does last longer than other season, around half of the Christian year.


This coming Sunday will be Father's Day.  Our Samoan congregation will lead us in worship.  It will be joyous and memorable.


We continue to remember the dear departed, John Nickerson and Pastor Sharon, whose obituary follows, along with last week's sermon.


Have a blessed weekend.  See you in church.


June 11, 2023

2nd Sunday after Pentecost


You may recall that for the past couple of weeks we have been thinking about, in addition to a passage from the Bible, a simple four-panel comic strip featuring the rascally, (scroll down to the bottom) irrepressible and incorrigible Calvin pounding nails into the living room coffee table; whereupon his mother interrupts his wanton and blissful destruction by shouting at him: “What are you doing?!”


Poor, innocent - we might say - Calvin, then asks himself “Is this a trick question or something?” which we find funny because it is perfectly obvious what he is doing.  He is destroying a coffee table.


Likewise it is perfectly obvious how come he is being destroying a coffee table.  How come?  Because he is a mischievous child and this is what children do.  He is having fun and does not know any better.


The question should be “Why are you pounding nails into a coffee table here, in the living room, instead of pounding nails into a worthless block of wood out in the garage or barn?


Thus I introduced and now keep talking about the key distinction between the questions:

What are we doing?  A question we ask of the present.

How come we are doing it?  A question we ask of the past.

Why are we doing it?  A question we ask of the future.


These are good questions.  We think about them all the time.   They deal with time, present time, past time and future.    And they all have answers, plenty of answers, sometimes too many.  


On this Second Sunday after Pentecost, let us ask these questions of us, here and now and see if our answers don’t have something to do with the Holy Spirit.


What are we doing here?  We’re in the middle of a worship service, a service of the word, a church service in San Carlos, California.  We are celebrating the Third Sunday after Pentecost, which is an ancient holiday that marks the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the church.  Et cetera.


How come we are here doing what we are doing?  In this building, at this place, at this time?


“Because,” begins the answer to a "how come?" question, this is a Christian church, which started some 2,000 years ago.  Christians generally worship on Sunday because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead.  The main worship service for most Christians for most of history has been on Sunday morning.  How come this building is here?  Well group of folks began this congregation here in 1928.


How come this guy up front is wearing a black gown or robe, which looks rather like the robe a judge wears?  Well, because about 500 years ago during the period of time we call the Reformation, most Protestant clergy decided that were no longer priests, didn’t want to look like them and wanted to look more like a city official, or magistrates, instead.  


I could go on explaining our history for hours.   Smile.  Don’t worry.


And so on.  Et cetera.  No explanation is ever complete.


Why is it happening?  Why are we here doing what we are doing?  There are at least as many answers to that question as there are people here, indeed many, many more.  The answer is somewhat bound up with the previous answer.  It could be ‘because my parents brought me to church.’  And that’s a good reason, but at some point most of us made our own decision to attend this particular church at this particular time, in this particular place.  


But the real answer to a why question is not because.  The real answer, or answers, is in order to. 


Some of us decided to come here 

in order to share this time with our friends and neighbors; 

Or in order to devote some time to God, or the Bible or both; 

Or in order to learn more about faith and the historic faith of the church; 

Or in order to enjoy the music

or all of the above plus various other reasons, or none of the above, for reasons I have not mentioned.


Or we could simplify matters by saying that we are here because the Holy Spirit first moved people out of that upper room in Jerusalem in order to spread the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.   We’re here because the Holy Spirit sent us, called us, gathered us.  We are here in order to share the Holy Spirit with others.


"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."


The disciples had just undergone trauma.  Their teacher and leader had been betrayed and killed.  How come?  Well, they knew, sort of.  They knew the sequence of events.  Repeating this over and over to themselves did not take away the pain.  Reliving the past rarely if ever makes you feel any better about it.  Even though they saw him disappear into the sky and he had given them pretty clear instructions, he was still gone and they still must have been overwhelmed with grief.  


Then the Holy Spirit came, as promised, and answered the why question.  Why did Jesus die (and rise again and ascend into heaven)?  Why?  In order that the disciples would carry on the work.  The Holy Spirit gave them a sense of purpose.  A sense of purpose is what redeems time.  Along with that sense of purpose came new abilities.  


Another way of putting this is that there is no tragedy so great that the Holy Spirit cannot work some good out of it.  The Holy Spirit is that part of God that gathers up the shattered pieces of our lives and molds them into a beautiful and colorful new mosaic.

- Pastor Richard Hyde

Community Church of San Carlos

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