Dear Friends and Members of St. Catherine's Church,
I need much coffee this morning. And I will probably need much coffee this afternoon. I didn't get any sleep last night. I stayed up watching the news about the U.S. presidential election. Finally at 5 a.m. the election was finished and the results were known. I turned off my computer at that point, rolled over in my bed, and tried to sleep. Even though I was extremely tired, I found it hard to sleep. Too much to think about. Too much to pray about. If I am going to make it through this day, I need lots of coffee to strengthen me.
I will say that I was surprised by the results...--Not just from the simple results but from the way this election is evidence of shifting trends, demographic changes, and evolving values within the American electorate. In a very objective way, it is interesting to see history being written right before our eyes.
As a priest I will also say that this election showed that the American people firmly rejected an incipient "theocracy" movement. The candidates who most strongly espoused and supported using the legal system to push a religious social agenda were, over and over again, rejected. Several referenda proposing things such as gay rights, assisted suicide, or legalized marijuana won passage in spite of strong opposition from the Roman Catholic-Baptist-Pentecostal-Mormon coalition. Fear-mongering preachers did not persuade the majority that hurricanes and earthquakes are proof that God will punish America for being too liberal.
If you have been at St. Catherine's for any time at all you will probably have noticed that I do not preach politics in my sermons. I hardly even engage the issues which politics deals with. Oh, I have lots of political opinions. But I am very hesitant to mix the message I love to preach about the Unconditional Love God has for us all, and the political message I take with me when I step into a voting booth or fill in an absentee ballot. I would find it a great thing, if you, even reading down this far in my Vicar's Message, still do not know which candidate I voted for. While I firmly believe that my personal political opinion is strongly influenced by my theology, I respect you too much to try and bore you with all my opinions. I would much rather think that each of you is just as qualified to form your opinions based on your own theologies. The same Holy Spirit that I look to for guidance and insight, dwells richly in each of you as well. Thanks be to God, we can pray privately within our hearts without a government telling us how to pray, how to think, or how to act. Nor do I feel the least inclination to think that my opinion must be set into national law to force anyone else to believe as I believe.
I find the respect for one another's beliefs and opinions to be central to the notion of Anglicanism. Part of the Elizabethan Settlement, named after Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII, is that the Church of England must be broad enough and tolerant enough to allow a wide spectrum of beliefs, so that even people of vastly different opinions could still gather together and worship together in good conscience. Just like at St. Catherine's. When we stand in that wonderful communion circle around the altar, there is no litmus test to filter out those who are "different". When we reach out to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, those of us sharing the Bread and Wine, do not ask: Republican or Democrat? Liberal or Conservative? Capitalist or Socialist? CDU or SPD or Grün or FDP or Linke?
All are welcome. All are respected. All are needed. All can share in the grace. All can share in the work. All can share in the responsibility. All can share in the stewardship of the Gospel.
So please be relaxed and rest assured I will never try to force my political opinions on any of you. But ...I will look to you all as equal co-workers with me, the wardens, and the parish council. And we will look to you to assist in the perpetuation and building up of St. Catherine's Church. In spite of those things which might separate us, we are one circle, one family, one congregation dedicated to serving the one God and serving His people wherever we can.
May God strengthen us for His service, and bestow upon us all that is needful for the work that is before us. AMEN.
I better stop now and drink another cup of coffee. It has been quite a night.
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- The Fall Bazaar (Martinimarkt), Lunch & Panto.... All these will take place Sunday, 11 November immediately following the 11.15 service. As the church service ends, we will instantly convert the church into a festive, festooned, organised collection of tables full of wonderful home-made items for sale to ourselves and all from the community who will want to come and buy. Baked goods, Jellies, Jams, and Marmalades; cakes, cupcakes, soup, sausages, Honey wine, hand-crafted items knitted, quilted, crocheted, Christmas decorations, a few books, and games... all will be there for the shopping pleasure of everyone. All the proceeds will go to the Outreach Fund. So... bring some euros to church on Sunday beyond what you will be putting in the offertory plate... so that you can take home some wonderful items made with love,... and sold with love,... so that Love made abound.
Children's Education Morning.... this coming Saturday, 10 November, 10a.m. --12 noon. Topic: The Bible...The Church's "Books". All kids between 4 and 11 are invited to come to the church office in Stuttgart-Berg (Karl-Schurz-Strasse 39) for a morning of teaching, story telling, singing, and craft projects to help familiarize them with this important topic. Parents are welcome to come along as well. The Vicar will start at the Katharinenkirche at 9:30 to escort any children who need to go with him on the U-bahn. Please let the Vicar know if your family has any children planning on attending.
- St. Cat's American Thanksgiving Sunday Sampler....18 November, during the Coffee Hour/ Tea Time following church. Anyone willing to cook some part of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal is asked to bring their dish to the church, to be sampled by all. It is not intended to be a sit-down meal, but a chance to sample the many flavours of the traditional meal. Expect...turkey and dressings, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pies, and much, much more. The chief cook is Rebecca B, who will be glad to tell you more, after church this Sunday. Rebecca has broaden this Sampling to include any dishes that someone might want to bring, whether or not it is part of the traditional American Thanksgiving menu. So anyone can bring something to share in the Sampling. If possible you might want to bring a few recipe cards to give to those who fall in love with your dish.
- Drieklang Organ Concert 3/3: Andy Dewar Organ Concert!!! Sunday evening 18 November at 1700 in the Katharinenkirche. Andy, a member of St. Cat's, was the inspiration for the Organ Project. Come and hear him play on the organ he got for us... He is highly talented, and an accomplished concert organist.
- The Stuttgart Taize City Service, will also take place on Sunday evening, 18 November, but at the Stiftskirche and not at 1700 but at 1800. Brother Timothy from Taize will be present for this City-wide ecumenical worship service. Talk to Alex Schmalz if you have any questions or would like to part of the team putting the service on.
- News from the Toddler Group Leader....So writes Aysin G: We purchased a house in August and are in the midst of renovating, sorting out and packing. I am finding that I am currently unable to hold other commitments in addition to taking care of two small children who demand constant attention and seem to presently have many health issues. I will resume the Toddler Group in the new year - January 2013. Until then, someone else may take over if so desired. Thank you for your patience, and looking forward to meeting with you again in the new year. Kind Regards, Aysin.
- Two Real Estate Requests......Both Brooke and Anna are looking to relocate to new apartments. Each are asking your help. Does anyone know of a room or small apartment where either may be able to move? If you have any ideas, please let the Vicar know and he will pass on your ideas to either Brook or Anna.
- L.E.G.S. will meet next Monday. See the website's calendar of events for all the details.
- Women's Coffee Morning will also meet next week on Thursday at 10 am. in the Church Office. Interested? All are welcome.
- D.O.T.S.: Dining Out Throughout Stuttgart.... will gather for supper next Tuesday...at the Italian restaurant near the Charlottenplatz called La Piazza. ( http://www.la-piazza-stuttgart.de/ ) at 19:00. Let April or the vicar know if you plan on attending so she can get a table large enough.
- Men's Pub Night: "zum Paulaner" at the Rotebuehlplatz ... The fun-loving men will gather at as close to 1900 as they can arrive. Contact Chris M. or Alex S. if you would like to take part.
Well, that is about it, I think. But I better drink another cup of coffee before I try proof-readingg this Messsage. Because like I said, I