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Weekly Announcements
October 11, 2017

From Fr. Court -

"Grief is in two parts.
The first is loss.
The second is in the remaking of life."

                                                                        - Anne Roiphe (Journalist, Author of Up The Sandbox)
In the past three months, I have been dealing with a lot of loss and a lot of grief. I have lost my good friend and father-in-law, Norm DeGraff, Julie's beloved grandfather, Warren Peterson, and just recently, my younger brother Lew Williams. Each of these losses has been unique and difficult in their own ways. Each of them brings with it different emotions and varying degrees and aspects of grief. Loss and mourning is unique to each individual and each relationship.

In the fifth chapter of Matthew's Gospel, we hear Jesus giving the famous Sermon on the Mount. In verse four, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." I have to admit that, so far, it hasn't felt like a blessing! I think that the blessing comes from the fact that the death of someone close to us, and its associated loss and grief, strips away all the things of this earth that we find so important, and brings our mortality into sharp focus for us. We see the finality of our existence. We see the importance of relationship and the futility of acquisition. As we see the opening maw of the grave, we also perceive the loving light of God as well. As death, mourning, grief, and loss strip away the last vestiges of earthly cares, we suddenly become very aware of the presence of God in our lives. 

Anne Roiphe, in the quote above, points to two realities of grief. The first is that there is loss. When someone close to us dies, it leaves a hole in our life. There is no magic fix that will make that hole go away. The pain may go away over time, or become dulled, but the hole will always be there. As she states, we must "remake our life" as we grieve a loss. That remaking of our life must include that hole, must make accommodation for that hole, and must make room for the grief that that hole engenders. As our lives move forward, that hole becomes a part of us, it becomes a part of who we are. 

Our hope lies in God's eternal presence with us. We can face the hole in our life because we will never face the loss of God's presence in our lives. We will always be surrounded and enveloped with the love of God. We will always be comforted by God's understanding of our pain. We will always have God to fall back on, to fall into his loving arms, when the pain of loss threatens to overwhelm us. That is where our blessing lies when we mourn. We never stop loving those whom we lose to death, just as God never stops loving us. 
Yours in Christ, 

Parish Contact Information
Fr. Court's Office Hours

Tuesday - Friday
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Parish Office Hours

Monday - Friday
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
For Pastoral Emergencies:
The Rev. Court Williams at 541-525-6567
To contact Fr. Court via email - click link below:  
Sunday's at Trinity

8:00 a.m.  Holy Eucharist 

9:00 a.m.   Fellowship
9:00 a.m.   Sunday School
9:00 a.m.   Adult Forum

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist


The 2017 Gala will be on Friday, November 3. This will be a wonderful evening filled with silent and live auctions, a wine roulette, creative baskets, fun raffles and a Gala Christmas Tree!  We'll have a fun DJ and a magical night at the  Mizuki Grill just steps away from Trinity!  Return your RSVP's Today!  

Thanks to all of you who have generously contributed donations for the gala thus far!  We are still in need of the following:
  • Unused gift certificates/cards - bring them in so they just aren't sitting unused in a desk drawer and put them to good use! 
  • Gift certificates for restaurants for wine roulette - please sign up to avoid duplication
  • Wine for wine and dinner roulette
  • Items for baskets
  • Christmas ornaments ($10 value) for the Gala Christmas Tree 

We will be having the  
irst Gala Kid's Raffle on October 22.

  It will be called R.J.'s Raffle and there will be some wonderful and fun items at the raffle!  The raffle will take place at the coffee hour.  There will also be pumpkins for the kids to decorate and lots of goodies!

At this year's Gala, you will not need to purchase drink tickets.  The bar will open at 6:30 PM and you will have a choice of beer, wine, champagne, or pop (included in the price of your ticket).  If you wish to purchase a cocktail, you will be asked to pay cash.  The great news is that we will be receiving 10% of the profits for the cocktails/mixed drinks! 
Finally, we would like to emphasize that this is an event not only to raise monies for those in need, but an opportunity for us to work together as a church family and to celebrate each other. Please help with donations (it takes a village or a parish in this case) and please come to the party!   

Have any questions? Ask Cynthia Wolpert or D.R. Smith. Thank you!
If you haven't received an invitation, please let our Parish Administrator, Martha, know and one will be mailed out to you!

A special email has been sent out to all parishioners 
- asking for your meal preference!  Please respond as soon as possible!
A Tisket a Tasket!  It's Time for the Gala Baskets!

Please Donate a Basket for this year's Gala or an item if you can. We have plenty of baskets for you to fill.  The deadline is October 23.  Feel free to get  creative!  

You may donate an entire basket or just the items. The sign-up board is in the formation room with a revised basket ideas list or you can call or email Charlotte Doniger at 773-678-3310 / charminccc@yahoo.com. Thank you!  
Trinity Youth Group Events!

Sunday, October 15
Youth Group Hosting Coffee Hour

The youth group will host coffee hour after the 10:00 a.m. church service.
We'll meet in the church kitchen at 9:00 a.m. to prepare coffee hour.

Sunday, November 12
Food Drive for the Moraine Township food pantry.

We will organize a food drive through the church to gather needed items for our local food pantry. The students will create some posters and make announcements leading up to the event. After church we'll load the donations into a car to be transported to the food pantry. They are only open Monday-Fridays but we will have future opportunities to help out at the site.  This is also Trinity's youth Sunday. We'll have the youth group take part in the service as well.
Teaching our Trinity Kids!

We need folks to serve our pre-school children during the 9:00 a.m. School hour for their Godly Play class. Please contact Jennifer Ould if you can help.  224-430-3872  Jennifer.ellen@gmail.com 
Kids at Trinity on Sunday Mornings 

            Grades 1-3                            Holy Moly
            Grades 4-6                            Whirl 
            Ages 3 - Kindergarten           Godly Play 

We offer nursery care Year Round at Trinity on Sunday mornings.  
Liz Olson is our Nursery Caregiver
Our Nursery is located on the first floor, near the Tri-Con entrance.
A Reading Study Group on Theology
From Priscilla McGraw:  I recently spent a weekend with the Benedictine Sisters of Madison and worshiped with them on Sunday.  In their Sunday bulletin I noticed a Reading/Study group that meets twice a month to discuss some current books and theology.
They listed the following books for the current program year: The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston: The Cross in Our Context by Douglas Jon Hall: The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault: The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen:  The Prophets by Abraham Heschel: and How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian by JohnDominic Crossan.
I am suggesting that Trinity forms a group that would meet twice a month to discuss the book.  There would not be a leader, but each person would read the book prior to the meeting and then bring two questions they would like to discuss with the group.  The group could also select the time they would like to meet.
If you are interested in attending this group, please contact Priscilla McGraw at 317-753-3137 or by email at priscillamcgraw@sbcglobal.net.
Saturday Morning Men's Bible Study

Saturday Morning Men's Bible Study at 9:00 a.m.  All men in the church are invited to attend. We will have coffee and goodies and discuss Sunday's readings.
Sunday Morning Adult Forums at Trinity

"Parable: Old and New"

The parables of Jesus are intended to turn our expectations on their head, to open our eyes to the ways God is at work in the world. We will be looking at parables Jesus told and what his original hearers would have heard in them, as well as new parables by Peter Rollins intended to help us see and question the assumptions in our lives and faith today.  

Join us for the discussion each week!  Sundays @ 9:00 a.m in the Guild Room
Contact: Jennifer Ould 224-430-3872
Hurrican Relief Efforts Continue

Your contribution to the Hurricane Relief Fund helps Episcopal Relief & Development support Church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency  assistance for those affected by these unprecedented storms. To help care for those most impacted, please click on the link below to contribute online at support.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-relief

We are grateful for your compassion and your partnership as, 
together, we heal a hurting world.
Help Distribute Food from Northern Illinois Food Bank

The Northern Illinois Food Bank Mobile Pantry has distributions that need help with handing out food, packing bags, and lugging boxes.

Next Date:  Saturday, October 28 from 8am-Noon, Hiighwood Public Library Parking Lot
Food For Thought

Food for Thought is completely dependent upon the generosity of you, our members. The shopping list can be found on the church website or on the table in the choir forming room. We generally shop for the designated items to fill 10 bags and rely on monthly contributions of $225 per month to pay for these items. Thank you for your generosity! Our next In-Gathering is this Sunday, November 12
Trinity Book Group - This Monday

All are invited to attend the next Trinity Book Group meeting on 

Monday, October 23 at 6:30 p.m.
We will be meeting at Church in the Guild Room

Our next book is 
`The Minaturist` by Jessie Burton

All are welcome!
Any questions - contact Maria Fiocchi at mjfiocchi@hotmail.com
Fall Church Grounds Clean-up

Please consider volunteering for our Fall Grounds Cleanup on Saturday, October 28 from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.  All ages welcome!  Questions or suggestions to Catherine Regalado ceshawl@yahoo.com
Blessing of the Costumes

Sunday, October 29 at the 10:00 a.m. Service
Kids are invited to wear their Halloween Costumes to church to be blessed.

Love a good mystery?

On Sunday, October 29, following the 10am service, come hear the Trinity History Committee try to solve "the case of the wandering chalice!" The program is in the Guild Room and the Committee will explore how an old chalice left Trinity and is now back. And it wasn't Colonel Mustard in the drawing room!
From the Wardens & Vestry:

Important News: Click here for an update on our Sanctuary Wall Leak

Vestry Meeting Minutes and Financial Reports:
Click the links below to view our most recent Vestry Meeting Minutes and our current Financial Reports.

Ken Fambro, Richard Monzingo, Fred Putz
Relatives & Friends
Highland Park Police Department
Marilyn - prayers for healing (friend of parishioner Hood Seely-Brown)
David Knapp (former parishioner)
James Bicknell (brother of John Bicknell)
Anne, Jenna, Pat, David, Pablo (friends of Mary Seaver)
Cara & Aaron and their foster twins (friends of Suzy Born)
Scott Peters (son of Barbara Peters)
Mehdi Hirani (friend of Cathy Mossler)
Ruth LaVerne Pauls (mother of Laurel Lester)
Joanna (friend of Seely/Browns and Malcolms)
Ashlynn Baeseman (niece of Scott Baeseman)
Arden Baeseman (father of Scott Baeseman)
Audrey Baer (family of Mary Baer)
Len Hanson (friend of Marilyn & Fred Putz)
Shawna Parti (neice of Cathy Mossler)
Daniel Turney (friend of Paul Nelis)
John Shotts (father of Rick Shotts)
Toni Stanley & Ben Bradley (relatives of Sue Barber)
Linda DeGraff (mother of Julie Williams)
Anne Pajcic (friend of Hood & Horace Seely-Brown
Susan & Andy Plasz (family of Priscilla McGraw)
Jim Schell (friend of Rae & Kirk Malcolm)
Holly Adams (cousin of Katie Bratton)
Erica (friend of Fred & Annette Johnston)
Kristin & Kate (relatives of Sue & Peter Barber)
Bob & Debbie (relatives of Sue & Peter Barber)
Roger Cole
Doris Stiehr (niece of Werner Diebel)
Trudy Winkler (niece of Werner Diebel)
Llewellyn Williams (brother of Fr. Court Williams)
Seab (friend of BJ & Bob Kohn)
David Schulte, Jr. (son of Ginny Schulte)

Those serving in the Armed Forces and their Families
Ben Chellew, nephew of Cynthia Hines
The 822nd MP deployed to Afghanistan
Those who have died
Remembering all those we love but see no longer, especially those buried here in St. Michael's Chapel
Please submit prayer requests to Martha in the Parish Office at office@trinitychurchhp.org 
Please provide first and last name and your relation to the person

Annual Meeting Report:

Fr. Court's Annual Address to

Trinity Episcopal Church's Annual Meeting

February 5, 2017

One of my favorite quotes is, "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" It is an anonymous quote, but one that really points to the power of fear, insecurity, and doubt in human life. When I speak to parishioners in different churches I have visited, I often hear stories about how they always thought that they should do this program or that program, start that outreach activity, or try a particular change in their liturgy. They always say, "if we had only..." They had great ideas of things that they truly felt called to do, but were too paralyzed by fear and self-doubt to actually implement or try them. They were too worried that others wouldn't like the idea. They were afraid that it would be seen as a dumb idea. Mostly, though, they were afraid that it would fail and they would look stupid. 

Often, they point back in their history to Fr. So-and-so or Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, some leader who had begun some ground-breaking new thing at their church which had completely revitalized them. They always say the same thing, "Oh, if only we were that smart, that we might come up with a great idea! If only we were able to start something that audacious or that grand. It would be so great!" The only difference between those leaders of yesteryear and us, is the willingness to risk failure in order to take the first step. 

You've all heard me say before that we ought to treat ourselves, and our elected parish leadership, the way we teach children how to walk. When you have a little one who is just learning to walk, we get really excited when they begin "cruising" around the furniture. They pull themselves up on every coffee table or chair and walk endlessly around it, using it to stabilize themselves. And it is SO CUTE! We just love watching them do this. Then one day it happens. They launch themselves away from the piece of furniture to which they have been clinging and step out boldly in a new direction, completely without support. Their they go, all by themselves, walking across the room! Oh my gosh!! They take two or three magical steps and then - KERPLOP - they lose their balance and fall right on their bottom. And what do we do? We punish them, right? NO! We cheer them on! We are the proudest parents on the planet at that moment, because we have the most amazing kid ever in history. Our amazing little one just walked three whole steps, BY THEMSELVES!! My kid is the smartest kid ever! And we pick them up, stand them on their feet and send them off, toddling across the room again with us cheering behind them for every two or three wobbly steps they make! That's how great parents teach great kids to walk.

If we would treat ourselves that way, we would get so much more accomplished. The problem is, we judge ourselves so harshly. We judge ourselves against our perception of how everyone else in the world is doing. We say things like, "I'm not as smart as him," or "I'm not as talented as her," or "I'm not as athletic or good looking or graceful as them." We do this destructive self-talk all the time, it's like a constant dictatorial inner-monologue of criticism in our head. And it's toxic, because it stops us from trying new things. We have told ourselves that, in comparison to someone else, we just aren't smart, and so we never try that class in economics that has always intrigued us at the local Community College because we know, internally, that we will fail at it. We don't even try, because we have already failed inside.

I am as guilty of this as anyone. I try not to let negative self-talk dominate my life, and my decision making, but it sneaks in there. One thing I began last year, as a way of saying goodbye to negative self-talk was to begin taking violin lessons. Internally, I thought to myself, I can't take these lessons. Ann, my violin teacher, who is amazingly talented, will think I'm terrible and wonder why I'm not progressing as quickly as the Elementary School kids she teaches. My own kids, who will have to listen to me practice, will giggle at me and wonder why their dad is doing something so silly. But I set all those fears and anxieties aside, and signed up for lessons, and you know what? I'm having a great time learning to play the violin. Yes, it is slow going. It is hard to learn something new at my age. But Ann never loses her patience with me, encouraging me to learn at my own pace. My kids never giggle at me, and are quite supportive of my efforts. I have discovered something that makes me happy, that keeps my mind active as I stretch to learn, and that enriches my life, but I wouldn't never have discovered that if I had let my self-talk, my doubts, and my fears rule me.

All of us feel a part of our church. We are Trinity and Trinity is us. We put our money, our time, and our talents into making this parish a success. Because of all that, we feel personally connected to this parish. All parishioners in all churches feel this way. Because of that personal connection, we tend to react emotionally to changes at our parish. We want it to be what we have become accustomed to it being. We don't want to see it struggle in any way. We don't want to see it fail in any way. If we try anything new, it must come out completely baked, 100 percent finished and perfect, ready to go. The problem is, whenever a change is contemplated, our corporate negative self-talk kicks in and we come up with a whole list of reasons why we can't or shouldn't try something. We say things like, "what will newcomers think?" or "what if some people leave because of this?" or "what if I don't really like the change?" In order to prevent our internal fears from coming true, we become unwilling to allow any changes whatsoever.

The problem is, we miss out on so many wonderful blessings when we let fear rule our thinking and decision making. Our parish is constantly changing. People die or move away. New people come. The people of yesterday are the church. But so are the people of today. And so are the people of tomorrow. By never allowing change to take place, we freeze our parish into the personality of one particular group of people. We never allow new people to affect us. We are basically telling them that we have no place for them. When anything stops growing, when it becomes stagnant, death begins to take hold. 

The answer to death is life! Life in our savior Jesus Christ. As a parish, we are not called to do that which the Rector wants. We are not called to do that which the Vestry wants. We are not called to do that which the majority wants. As a parish, we are called to do that which Jesus Christ calls us to do. We are called to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our community. We are called to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our Community. We are called to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our community. 

Which means we, as a community, must discern God's call to us as a community. The Vestry and I, as leaders in this parish, have been discerning God's call for this parish. We have talked about it, prayed about it, and argued about it. We will continue to discern God's call every day, praying for God's guidance. We will also be rolling out some changes to the parish. Later in this meeting, you will be hearing about some new ministries, new liturgies, and new outreach. Yes, it will be hard for some of us. Yes, it may bring some negative self-talk. Yes, we might take a few steps and fall on our backsides. But together, we will pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and try again. Only through trying to do God's will do we have a chance to actually do God's will. 

As we look forward to 2017, I see a great many blessings for Trinity Parish. We have a wonderful group of committed Vestry who care deeply about this parish, who respect its past and traditions, and who are committed to helping it grow into a new future. We have amazing lay leadership in so many areas of our parish, from leadership to teaching to ministries and to outreach. We are a functional and growing parish, ready to step boldly into a bright new future together.

I encourage you to pray for all in leadership, that we might always keep God's will forefront in all we do. I encourage and bid you to give a word of support when you can. I also encourage you to reach out with questions or concerns or feedback, that we might continually work toward a brighter future. I encourage you to understand when we take a few wobbly footsteps and fall, and encourage us all to get back up and try again. Only by working together, bravely, courageously, and patiently can we truly move forward in God's mission.

Lastly, I want to give thanks to all of you for all of your support this year. You are all truly a blessing. God has blessed me richly by bringing me to this amazing parish and I am thankful for that every day. I am thankful for all of you. And I am thankful that God has a plan for us here at Trinity. So let's get ready to take a few wobbly steps along God's path of light, holding one another in prayer, in love, and in community together.

Thank you!

New Things for 2017

The Vestry has been working diligently to Discern God's call in our parish. Trinity church does many amazing things, but are they all what God is calling us to do, here in Highland Park, in 2017? Who we are as a church is different than who we were when we started many of these programs. 

Highland Park is different than a lot of north shore suburbs. We are geographically very large, with a diverse population. We are not only ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse, but socio-economically diverse as well. There is a wide range of diversity in income, life-style, and housing in our community. There are many opportunities for outreach right here in our own community. Many people in Highland Park and Highwood are food insecure, which means that they are not guaranteed a meal on the table at the end of the day. Many people in our community live paycheck to paycheck, if not day to day. To that end, we have decided to step out boldly into some new areas.

Change to the 10:00 a.m. Liturgy

The first change is to our 10:00 a.m. liturgy. Now I know that any change to our services can bring a lot of fear, worry, and angst. That is why we are doing this as a trial period first. From the first Sunday in Lent, Sunday March 5th, through the seasons of Lent and Easter, up until Trinity Sunday, Sunday June 11th, our 10:00 a.m. service will become bi-lingual. We are going to format it the way we do on our Dia De Los Muertos Sunday, where the bulletin is printed in both languages in a side-by-side format. The first reading will be read in Spanish. The Second lesson in English. And the Gospel in both languages. We will endeavor to incorporate Spanish service music and anthems wherever possible as well. 

We plan to advertise this in the schools with high Hispanic populations, as well as restaurants, Hispanic and Latino grocery stores throughout our area. We had some Hispanic guests at our Dia De Los Muertos service who told us that, if we had this every Sunday, they would come. They told us that everyone assumes that they are all Catholic, but many are not, and don't feel a welcoming invitation to any particular church.

Yes, this is going to be different. Yes, this means new people coming to our church. Yes, it might be hard to understand some of them. Yes, it might change us. It might also be exciting and transforming. 

During the process, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or a vestry member and we can make sure that your questions are answered. Please remember that this is just one wobbly step for us. That we need to be patient. That we need to be supportive of one another. That we need to encourage one another as we move forward.

Anyone interested in being on the planning committee for the bi-lingual service, please let me know.

New Community Meal Proposal

Trinity has participated in the Christ Church, Waukegan feeding ministry for many years. It is a great program which feeds a lot of people in need. But we here in Highland Park have people right outside our door which need fed. People who may have enough money and food to make it from Monday dinner to Saturday dinner, but have nothing for Sunday. It was brought to my attention, by multiple people in our parish, that we should consider doing a community meal right here at Trinity.

I began my contacting the Mayor of Highland Park, The Honorable Nancy Rotering, the City Manager of Highland Park, Ms. Ghida Newkirch, and the Township Superivsor, Ms. Ann Bassi. All were supportive of the idea and agreed that it was desperately needed here. They all pledge their support of the idea.

Next, I contacted Rabbi Ryan Daniels of Northshore Congregation Israel on Sheridan Road. He is experienced in setting up feeding programs and has agreed to help lead up this effort. We also have the support of the Jewish congregations that are a part of the SELCIRCL (South East Lake County Inter Religious Council). Also, supportive from group were the Christian Churches, the B'Hai Congregation, and the Humanist Congregation. This would be, not only a Ecumenical effort, but an inter-faith one as well.

Lastly, I contacted the Lake County Health Department. In order to do this, we would be required to make some upgrades to our kitchen facilities. Looking realistically at Wolcott Hall, we soon realized we would probably have to make some changes in here as well. As I fretted about that, the Mayor reminded me that the Community House is available to rent and has a kitchen. Unfortunately, it is very small. So, we have some decisions to make.

I am putting together a formal committee, with the permission of the Vestry, to look into what it would take to put on this meal. The biggest impediment would be the cost of upgrading our facilities. But as one Vestry member put it, that would also benefit the parish in other ways as well. 

Before I go any further, I want to make the process very clear. We will NOT DO ANYTHING without your approval. This would be a big step for this parish. The new committee, after doing all its research, will make a recommendation to the Vestry. If the Vestry approves it, then we will set up some town hall style meetings to explain it to the congregation. Once everyone is aware of what we want to do and has had all their questions answered, then we will have a parish meeting to vote on our next step. WE WILL NOT DO ANYTHING without your knowledge and approval. You will have lots of opportunity to see, to ask, to question, to suggest.

I encourage you to pray about this as we move forward this year. Pray that we will have God's guidance in this process. Pray for discernment, that God might be calling you to be a part of this process. Pray for all this doing this work. 

Let me know if any of you want to be a part of the Community Meal Committee.

New Outreach Committee

We are setting up a new Outreach Committee. This committee is going to look at all of our current outreach projects. They are then going to examine new outreach projects and come up with recommendations for the parish. None of our current outreach projects are bad, but are they what God wants us to be doing right now? Is there something else that we should be reaching out into our community and doing? We are called to live out the Gospel in our community, what is the best way for us to do that?

Please let me know if you would like to be on the new Outreach Committee.

February 5, 2017 Sermon     Isaiah 58: 1- 12

5 Epiphany (A)                   Psalm 112

Trinity, Highland Park                             1 Corinthians 2: 1 - 16

Annual Meeting                      Matthew 5: 13 - 20

"Salty Salt"

In today's Gospel reading, we hear about salt. We are all familiar with salt. We probably all have a shaker of it sitting on our dining room table, or perhaps, by the kitchen stove. Living in a state which gets its fair share of snow and ice, we are all familiar with salt's de-icing properties. What is salt, though? We know that it is a mineral compound made up of sodium and chlorine existing in a cubic crystalline form. We know it can be used to preserve meat from spoiling. We know it can be used to melt snow and ice off streets and sidewalks, as well as help in the creation of homemade ice cream. We also know it can be used to flavor food. Lastly, we know that it tastes salty.

Saltiness is a defining characteristic of salt. Preserving meat or melting ice are uses of salt, but saltiness is a defining characteristic. If salt were not salty, it would not be salt. 

I remember in one of my Middle School years, my science teacher put two small bowls in front of us. Both bowls contained white, crystalline substances. We were to figure out what they were by merely looking at them. Of course, we could only guess what they were. We guessed salt, sugar, or some other substance. My teacher then asked, "if I tell you that the bowls are either sugar or salt, how would you tell the difference?" We, of course said, "taste it!" And so we did, discovering that the one which tasted sweet was sugar, and the one which tasted salty was salt. Salt is salty. And if it's not salty, it's not salt. 

Now that seems like a really obvious, if not really dumb thing to say, "salt is salty or it's not salt." but that concept has powerful consequences for us as Christians. We Christians have a defining characteristic, and that is to be "Christ-like." We are called to live lives that are exemplified by Christ-like behavior. We are called to live the way Jesus taught us to live through his teachings and through the manner in which he lived his life. To do otherwise, is to not be Christian. Living Christ-like lives is a defining characteristic of Christians. Or, more accurately, attempting to live Christ-like lives is a defining characteristic of Christians. Just as salt is "salty," Christians are "Christ-like."

What this means is that, as Christians, we must examine our lives daily to see if we are truly living our lives in a Christ-like manner. Are we doing that which God called us to do? This can be difficult work, as it calls us to honestly look at how we lead our lives. One way to start is by looking at our Sunday mornings.

What we do on Sunday morning sets up our week. Do we stay in bed, justifying not attending church by telling ourselves that we, "worship on the golf course," or that "being in nature is our cathedral?" or that "Oh, God will understand that I've had a busy week?" And if we do come to church on Sunday morning, are we really just tolerating the liturgy so that we can get to our "Blessed Brunch?" Is Sunday at church just our Holy Huddle, inwardly focused on ourselves and our close friends? Sometimes you hear someone say, "Oh, I think I'm going to find a new church because I'm just not getting anything out of this one. I don't feel fed." If you find yourself saying this, I have bad news for you, you're doing church wrong.

There is an old saying about marriage that goes like this, marriage is an empty box, the only thing in it is that which you put into it. So many people that I counsel who are having marital problems tell me, "I don't get anything out of the marriage." But, the only thing IN the marriage is what you put into it. If the marriage is full of love, and joy, and excitement, it is because you, and your spouse, have put it into the marriage box. If the marriage box is empty, it is because you have been trying to take out more than you put in. Getting married is NOT about having someone to make you happy for the rest of your life, it is about having someone that YOU get to make happy for the rest of YOUR life. Don't get married if your true joy isn't being connected for life to that other person, dedicated to loving them in every way. Church is the same way.

Church is a box containing two things, the love of God and God's people. That's it. It has God's unconditional, amazing and overwhelming love for us, and it has other people for us to love. If we come to church expecting to be fulfilled or self-actualized or have our self-esteem pumped up, then we are taking out of an empty box. But, if we come to be filled up with the love of God and have the opportunity to be in relationship with God's children, then Church will become an amazing place. But we have to remember that Church is NOT the end though, it is not the final destination, it is the starting point, the beginning.

Sunday morning is where we come to worship and praise God. Sunday morning is where we come to reach across the altar rail from our world, into the world of the Divine in order to be filled with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be filled with God's grace, so that we might go out into our world to love and serve him. 

There is a church that has a sign at the exit of their parking lot. Where it is located, everyone sees it every Sunday. This sign says this:

You are now entering God's mission field.

The liturgy has ended and the service begins.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

I love that sign! What a great reminder that we are not called to our supper club or blessed brunch or our holy huddle on Sunday morning, but we are called to be filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, to be filled with the invigorating grace of God, to be empowered by the body and blood of Jesus Christ to go out into our world and to live the Gospel at every time, in every place, to every one! We are called to go out and to live Christ-like lives of love and service. We are called to go out and see a world which is an empty box and to fill it up with the love of God.

Salt without saltiness is not salt. A lamp put under a bushel basket is not a lamp. If we deny our basic defining characteristic as Christians, that of being loved by God so that we might go out and love the world, then we are not Christians. If Sunday morning is just this, just this building and just our coffee hour and just our coming together as a group of like-minded friendly people, then we are no longer Christians. Sunday morning has to be more than that, it has to be more than just us, it has to involve others. Jesus Christ died for us, descended to the grave, rose again, and ascended into heaven so that we might be freed from sin, freed from the grave, and more importantly, to eternally bind us once again to God. Through Jesus Christ's salvific action, we enter the garden once again, guaranteed eternal life in God through Jesus Christ. That is amazing news! That is the Good News of the Gospel. That is what we are called to share, through loving action with all of the world. That is why Sunday morning is important. That is why Sunday morning is the starting point. That is why we come, why we pray and worship and praise, and that is why we go forth in love.

Let's go forth each and every day to let the light of Jesus Christ shine through our lives onto the whole world. Let's go forth each day and be salty, be Christians, be the love of God in our world.  Amen.