The Vicar’s Corner: Opportunity Knocks, Will You Answer?

The Choir of St Nicholas, 2013

The choir is hard at work preparing, training and rehearsing. Their gift of music and song uplifts our Sunday Liturgy…for we are encouraged to “sing and dance before the tabernacle.” Soon, they will be releasing another CD for our listening and sharing pleasure and just in time for the holiday season.

Our Saturday Liturgy has a three-speared effort of music with Mary, Hal and Tony all taking one Saturday each month with a “said liturgy” filling out the Saturday calendar. These dedicated musicians, along with each member of the choir all give so much of themselves to help beautify and make more glorious our worship and celebration of our Christian faith and Episcopal identity. Our choir members, along with Hal and Tony willingly and gratefully volunteer their time and talents to make St. Nicholas such a welcoming, joyful place to worship. And we are all grateful and humbled by their efforts and shared talents.

Brandon Garcia

Brandon continues to prepare the worship programs we all use. He does an amazing job considering he is a full-time high school senior, athlete, choir member and not to mention the chores for which he is responsible at home. Yet, he finds and makes time to volunteer and prepare the program for our use. Soon, we hope to have a couple more members of the community learn how to share in this ministry.

HalVergerChristmas2013

Hal serves as our Verger…a position for which he studied and prepared. He gives this ministry serious time, effort and cost as he gives back to St. Nicholas as St. Nicholas gives back to him.

Pat Kalicki, Douglas VanHouten, and Robert DeHaven share a laugh

Members of the Bishop’s Committee, the Building Committee, the Liturgy Team, Children’s and Youth Formation, Food Pantry Team…all give of themselves, with a spirit of willingness while generously sharing of their gifts so others can be blessed and rewarded.

HandMadeBread

People who volunteer to make coffee, to bake bread, to clean the facility, to mow the lawns, to tend to the gardens, who pull out and cut down shrubs and bushes…each and every one of these beautiful people do so because they care. It is with the same joyful dedication our sisters and brothers share in the reading of the lessons and the sharing of the Cup at our liturgies. Tom Smith and Pat Kalicki bring Jesus to our home-bound members…Jesus travels well and He loves to visit and be with us!

Donations of supplies help St Nicholas devote resources to other ministries

So many of our parish family share their treasures with the church, too. Pledging, open plate offerings and making visits to the Giving Tree…all this goes so very far in securing our present day and future endeavors. These gifts are essential, are necessary and are what keep our doors open, lights on and music playing. No one likes to “talk money,” but we do in casual and simple style because we must do so. Without the financial assistance, we we fade away…we cease to exist. And this, my friends, simply is not part of our plan…this is not in the equation. No sir. No ma’am. We do all this and more because we care…because we love this place…because this is what we are commissioned to do as Christians and members of a faith community.

FatherMannyPeaceHugXmas2013

My friends, there are so many opportunities to be part of this church. Physical presence is a fine start and trust me, I love seeing everyone! Our church is so much more beautiful when we are in there…singing, worshiping, greeting one another at the Sign of Peace, opening our hands and hearts as we say ‘Amen…Yes I believe.’ Yet, there is more we can do. Think of a ministry in which we may wish to be more engaged…choir, baking bread, teaching our children, reading the lessons, preparing the worship programs, cleaning and caring for the facility, volunteering at the food pantry the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, preparing Coffee Hour on Sundays…you name it, the opportunity is there. Lastly, I ask us all to consider strongly and sincerely the requests that lay before us in the annual Stewardship Drive and the Capital Campaign. Help us keep St. Nicholas moving forward and onward…sustaining and securing a bright, beautiful and bountiful future for us all.

Amen…Yes I believe!

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Father Manny: Walking, Praying, Staying On and Off The Trail

This weather of late has been remarkably wonderful…almost “perfect” if you ask me. Not much in our world comes close to being perfect. So when such near-perfect weather presents itself, we are to make full and good use of it.

Hiking boots on, I ventured to a small but rather rugged forest preserve just a stone’s throw from our home. The place is a year-round refuge for outdoor folks; hiking, fishing, camping and cross-country skiing, too. It is a wonderful spot. I decided to take the longer path; lots of hills and some sharp curves were on the agenda but I was not to be deterred.

St. Nicholas Church provides us a safe place to worship, to gather with family and friends around a Common Table, the altar, where we have Jesus presented to us from humble, earthly gifts of bread and wine. Through the sacred words of consecration and God’s divine intervention, Jesus is afforded us and we partake in the banquet. Drama of the highest degree!

The sun was out, God was in God’s heaven and all was well in my little world. I began the power walk right into the woods: the journey commenced. As I walked I prayed; sometime silently and sometimes aloud, as if I were announcing my Creed to the creatures of the forest. I was in a zone. I walked fast and and I walked hard. I stayed focused on the trail but not really paying too much mind to what trail I was actually taking. Eventually, it dawned on me that I was no longer on a “marked trail,” but into the damp, muddy and swampy fields. The cattails were tall…I mean really tall. I kept walking on what appeared to be another hiker’s footprints. I figured they must have gotten out some how as I saw no body laying amidst the tall grasses and other growth. And I kept walking. It wasn’t that I was scared, mind you. I knew I’d get out eventually. After all, I could still hear the truck traffic on the main road. I figured if I could hear the trucks and determine from whence they came, I’d head in that direction and I’d be safe. Well, it’s not that easy when a forest and swamp lands intercept your path. I was sweating and my heart was pounding…okay, maybe I was just a little “concerned.” I left my cell phone in the car…that was smart. So much for emergency use. But, behold, just before me, past a group of evergreen trees I could see the bend of the gravel road that would lead to the parking area. Success. I had survived. Truly, it was not all that dramatic a situation. However for poetic license, I had to make it sound dramatic, right?

When it comes to church, there is a friendly familiarity to what we do. We know of what we commemorate, of what we celebrate. We recall Jesus’ breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine with His disciples. We have heard the Lessons from Sacred Scripture. Some passages are very dear to us and perhaps some passages not so catching or memorable. And yet, we come each week and some thing “new,” some thing “wonderful” happens. We are refreshed. We are rejuvenated. We are made gift of God’s unique and loving grace yet again. This is why our worship is so dramatic…so dynamic…it is never the same…it is ongoing, varying and flowing.

St. Nicholas Church provides us a safe place to worship, to gather with family and friends around a Common Table, the altar, where we have Jesus presented to us from humble, earthly gifts of bread and wine. Through the sacred words of consecration and God’s divine intervention, Jesus is afforded us and we partake in the banquet. Drama of the highest degree!

It is our sacred responsibility to make sure St. Nicholas stands tall and remains just such a safe place for ourselves, our children and the generations that are to follow. Preserving our church today secures a solid and sound tomorrow. Please pray and consider with generosity, kindness and love the current requests of our Stewardship Drive and Capital Campaign. Let’s make sure we keep St. Nicholas on the right path…the path to a long, enduring and successful future.

God bless us, one and all.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150

Unity, Harmony, Singleness In Action

WeAreStNick

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
-A.W. Tozer, “The Pursuit of God.”

And there you have it. Complex and at the same time so very simple and concise. Aiden Wilson Tozer touched many hearts with his preaching and grassroots ministry. As an Evangelical minister, preacher and writer, Tozer knew how to communicate with his congregations. He spoke to them and listened to them and worshiped with them. Together, they formed community that was strong, faithful and unified.

Unity, as defined by the Free Dictionary is: “1. The state or quality of being one; singleness. 2. The state or quality of being in accord; harmony. 3. The combination or arrangement of parts into a whole.”

St. Nicholas is many things: we are diverse, we are multicultural, we are openly and demonstratively welcoming and inviting. We are young, old and many ages in between. We are black and white and various shades as well. We are urbanites and suburbanites; our roots and heritages are found in other countries far away and as close as a mile from our church. We are also imperfect and flawed. We are frail and finite; we are mortal and at times become victims to sin. But still and most importantly we are united. Our unity is forged through our friendships and our commonality as believers in a loving and benevolent God. We are sisters and brothers and heirs of the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father and Jesus, His son. We worship as a community. We celebrate and grieve as a community. We succeed and yes, on occasion, we shall fail as a community. We try and when needed, we will try even harder. This is what a family does…it works hard at staying together…at being connected…at being in harmony…at being unified.

The next few months, we will be receiving mail from the Bishop’s Committee, the Senior Warden and myself. These letters concern both our annual Stewardship Drive and Capital Campaign. This is a rare and unique time in the history of our church. The Stewardship Drive is a yearly event. We are all familiar with this. Every Episcopal church in this country encounters this. However, our Capital Campaign is quite new to us and we certainly hope and pray, an event we will not have to revisit for many, many years to come.

We are asking much of our community because much is needed to help rebuild and strengthen our church for now and the long-term future. With the kindness extended to us by the Diocese and the funds already on hand, we are well on our way toward our goals. Yet, there is still help needed as well as much work to be done. Much of the work we are undertaking is long overdue. With this in mind, it is up to us, here and now to do what is “good, right and just.” Please know this; I am very conscience of the generosity of this amazing community — this loving family. No one will be pressured nor will we come “a-knocking at your door.” We ask each member to share as we are able, as we are willing.

Let us see our unity, our harmony and our singleness in action. Let us build our house of worship stronger, better and more beautiful. “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
1 Corinthians 3:9.

And let’s make a joyful noise…a resounding sound so others know that some thing good is happening at St. Nicholas…and we shall all rejoice at the efforts we put forth.

Thank you again and yet again. You are all in my prayers and always in my heart. Unity is a wonderful thing…

Amen.

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

Father Manny150