Gratitude

by Pastor Kent Carlson

30yearbash-54

I absolutely loved our church’s 30-year anniversary celebration weekend. I’m not completely sure why it was so profoundly satisfying and fun for me. I just know that it was perhaps the most enjoyable time I have had in thirty years of ministry at Oak Hills Church. Maybe it was because we were so very relaxed going into that weekend. Maybe it was because we weren’t really using the celebration for much of anything other than to have a party together. Maybe it was the amazing performance of the Oak Hills Rewind. Maybe it was seeing Rick Leary in long hair. Whatever it was, I had a blast.

The predominant feeling I have coming out of this celebration is gratitude. Thirty years is a long time to be in one place. In one church. There are so many stories, so many beautiful people, so many experiences of God’s grace and transformation. So many people who have sincerely sought to follow Christ in the midst of what seemed like impossible situations. And all these stories flooded over me, and I was, and continue to be, deeply grateful to God and to the people of Oak Hills Church, for all this goodness, all this beauty, all these stories that are a part of God’s great story of redemption. This Thanksgiving, without any effort at all on my part, but simply as the natural result of being overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the people of Oak Hills Church, I am deeply grateful. It’s a good feeling.

Now, on to the next thirty years!

I want to highlight two events to help us bask in the sheer delight of our 30-year celebration. First, we have our Annual Congregational Meeting and Vision Night on Thursday, November 20. We will worship together, meet our elders and vote to affirm them. We will talk about some of the challenges and opportunities in our future and have a time for questions and answers. We will have a scrumptious dessert. And most wonderfully, we will have a repeat of our Oak Hills Rewind. For those of us who have already seen it, we will be able to laugh all over again. For those of you who have never seen it, well, you are in for a treat. Please try to make this night a priority and let’s keep the celebration going!

Second, I want to encourage us all to come to our annual Thanksgiving Eve Service. We will worship together “in the round” and we will share together the Lord’s Supper. There will be ample opportunity to share with each other our deep gratefulness to God for all that He as done for us. I hope to see you all there.

With deep thankfulness,

Kent Carlson

Baby Shower!

by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Women’s Ministries

Christi Holm

On June 4 at 11am, our Women’s Ministries at Oak Hills is hosting a Baby Shower/Brunch in our Chapel for the Alternatives Pregnancy Center which is located just a few blocks from our church. I recently caught up with Christi Holm, Alternative’s Center Manager (and fellow Oak Hillian), to chat a bit more about APC and the upcoming shower.

Question:  Christi, tell us a little about the Alternatives Pregnancy Center – Where is it, how long has it been active and why does it exist?

Answer:  Alternatives Pregnancy Center in a non-profit medical clinic and pregnancy resource center. We have been in Sacramento for 27 years (formerly Crisis Pregnancy Center of Sacramento). APC Folsom opened its doors in April 2010 as our first satellite center. APC exists to help women facing an unplanned pregnancy. We offer free limited obstetrical ultrasound as well as all levels of support available, including parenting and adoption. As a life affirming organization, we do not provide or refer for abortion. We provide accurate information on abortion, including the various procedures and risks, in an environment of professionalism and understanding.

We are also all about prevention! We offer an excellent abstinence based sexual health curriculum for schools and churches and the community.

Our post abortion recovery bible study is an environment of safety and healing for women who have suffered the effects of abortion. Statistically over 43% of all women will have had an abortion by the age of 45. This is a staggering number of women living in bondage to fear and guilt. Our Forgiven and Set Free bible studies offer freedom and healing through a redemptive relationship with Christ. For information: 916.807.4188 or confidential email to healing@freshhope.net.

Question: Why did Alternatives choose Folsom as a second location for the Center?

Answer:  Folsom has been identified as an underserved area of Sacramento with an unusually high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in our youth. We hope to offer STD testing in the near future. The purpose in this would be to offer abstinence counseling prior to testing with the hope of changing our culture in favor of abstinence until marriage, family, and healthy relationships.

Question:  What kinds of volunteer opportunities are available at APC?

We offer training twice a year for the client advocate position. A client advocate is a peer counselor who offers unconditional love and support to young women struggling with making a decision for life. Our next training is scheduled in September. For more info, call 916-972-0367.

Question: What exactly is a Baby Shower for APC? How is it helpful that Oak Hills Church is hosting one?

Answer:  Hosting a baby shower helps to stock our Nursery Nook. Young mothers have the opportunity to participate in our P411 “Earn while you Learn” program. With each class attended, they earn “Mommy bucks” in which they can purchase diapers, formula, clothing, cribs, high chairs, strollers, etc. We also provide a layette of new items on their 4th visit. We are an avenue for the community to help these young women and men become healthy parents. APC does not receive government funding and relies on the support and giving of churches, organizations and individuals to help us stock the Nursery Nook and pay the rent. The items donated at a baby shower go directly into the hands of young mothers with very little support or resources available.

Question: How can people get more information about the APC?

Come in for a tour. We are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10-4. We would welcome your visit anytime!

341 South Lexington Drive #102 Folsom 916-932-5000

Visit our websites www.alternativespregnancycenter.org

www.pgtest.com (Client site)

Note: To RSVP for the shower, sign up at the Welcome Center in the church lobby. You can also sign up there if you’d like to bring a brunch item. Should be a fun event!! We’d love to have lots of women join us. Gifts need not be wrapped. For more information, contact Audrey Oberle at aaoberle@comcast.net .

It’s All in the Preparation . . .

by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Assimilation

Recently, I spent a few wonderful hours on a Saturday in an oil painting class. I’m no artist, but I do enjoy tapping into my creative side and seeing what will happen. Sometimes I think I’m just hoping there’s a Picasso hidden somewhere inside of me that’s just waiting to emerge in some grand and surprising artistry. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still hopeful.

I came to this class with my easel, all ready to put paintbrush to canvas and whip up a masterpiece. And I mean READY. Once I know I’m going to be doing something, I tend to chomp at the bit to get right to it.  But this didn’t happen that way. After setting up the easel to just the right height, aligning the TV tray beside it and positioning the chair accordingly, I thought I was ready to paint. Just hand me a brush, already! Instead, we embarked on a study in color mixing and values. Then we talked through the paints on our pallets; which ones were opaque and which were transparent. After selecting an image to paint, sketching the values with charcoal and preparing the canvas, we were instructed on thinking through placement of the objects in our picture, learning about the variety and purpose of the brushes and how to clean them. Then, finally, it was time to actually paint. And now I was truly ready.  All the preparation beforehand ensured that we were really ready to face our canvas fully equipped and engaged to experience painting as we should.

Easter is somewhat like that. Every year about this time, I start feeling Easter coming on the horizon. And I look forward to that day as a joyous celebration. But I’ve learned over the years not to rush through the weeks leading up to that big day, lest I arrive there ill-prepared to fully enter into it. Lent is the 40 day preparation time leading up to Easter.  And we are now officially in that preparing time, beginning with Ash Wednesday this week.  This is a time that mirrors an important event in the life of Jesus, when he retreated to the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, preparing for his ministry which would eventually lead to his death and resurrection.

At Oak Hills, we provide several opportunities for people to use as tools for engaging in the Lenten Season from now through Holy Week culminating with Easter Sunday. These opportunities are listed below; hard copies of these opportunities are also available at our Welcome Center.

I encourage you to include a few of these opportunities in your Lenten season of preparation as a means to purposefully reflect and engage your heart with readiness for that wonderful, redemptive Resurrection Day, Easter, when we proclaim “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!”

LENTEN SEASON OPPORTUNITIES:

Fasting – we invite you to fast daily throughout Lent, either a meal, type of food or activity that you can replace with an increased attentiveness to God.

Compassion – it is important during this time of reflection to have a sacrificial attitude for those in need. Throughout Lent, you can bring non-perishable food to church and drop it off at the bin in our lobby to go to the Twin Lakes Food Bank.

Breath prayer three times daily – Choose a short phrase, something like “Lord Jesus, my confidence is in You” and repeat part of this as you breathe in, and the rest as you breathe out. Select three consistent times each day for this, perhaps at 10am, 3pm and 8pm.

Bedtime prayer – As your final activity and last words of the day before drifting off to sleep, pray through the Northumbria Aidan Compline each evening. (See below)

Early Morning Guided Prayer – Holy Week – Monday through Wednesday at 7:30am in the Prayer Room

Services/Events

Maundy Thursday – April 21, 7pm

Good Friday – April 22, Noon

Easter BBQ – April 23, 3:30pm

Easter Sunday services – April 24, 9 and 11am

Northumbria Aidan Compline

O Christ, Son of the living God, may Your holy angels guard our sleep,

may they watch over us as we rest and hover around our beds.

Let them reveal to us in our dreams visions of Your glorious truth,

O High Prince of the universe, O High Priest of the mysteries.

May no dreams disturb our rest and no nightmares darken our dreams.

May no fears or worries delay our willing, prompt repose.

May the virtue of our daily work hallow our nightly prayers.

May our sleep be deep and soft so our work be fresh and hard.

I will lie down and sleep in peace for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

My dear ones, O God, bless Thou and keep, in every place where they are.

Into Your hands I commit my spirit; I give it to You with all the love of my heart.

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.

I make the cross of Christ upon my breast, over the tablet of my hard heart,

and I beseech the Living God of the universe – may the Light of Lights come

to my dark heart from Thy place; may the Spirit’s wisdom come to my heart’s tablet from my Saviour.

Christ without sin, Christ of wounds,

I am placing my soul and my body under Thy guarding this night,

Christ of the poor, Christ of tears.

Thy cross be my shielding this night, O Thou Son of tears, of the wounds, of the piercing.

I am going now into the sleep: O be it in Thy dear arm’s keep,

O God of grace, that I shall awake.

My Christ! my Christ! my shield, my encircler, each day, each night, each light, each dark.

My Christ! my Christ! my shield, my encircler, each day, each night, each light, each dark.

Be near me, uphold me, my treasure, my triumph.

Circle me, Lord, keep protection near and danger afar.

Circle me, Lord, keep light near and darkness afar.

Circle me, Lord, keep peace within; keep evil out.

The peace of all peace be mine this night in the name of the Father,

and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Ash Wednesday

by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Assimilation

“Where were you when….?” This common phrase is often finished by phrases like “. . . JFK was shot”, or if you’re younger, maybe  “. . . John Lennon was shot” or “. . . the Twin Towers were struck on 9/11.”  There are some significant events in history that serve as markers in time to our memories. One such marker for me would be Ash Wednesday 2004. That was the day the long-awaited “The Passion of the Christ” film was released in movie theaters. I remember that day well. We had our Ash Wednesday service that day, and later went to watch this film, ashes still on our foreheads. As I stood in line, I was struck by how many people around me also had ashes on their foreheads, not just those from our church. I was undone by the reality of the gravity of my sin and the costly and dear gift of my salvation as I watched this dramatic visual account of the last week of the life of Christ presented on the Big Screen. That Ash Wednesday, I had a better understanding of the significance of the day.

You see, Ash Wednesday day wasn’t commemorated with a service in the church in which I grew up. It was something I wasn’t very connected to at all and had only a vague understanding about . I would see people at school or in the community that day with ashes on their forehead and find myself wanting to walk up them with a hanky to wipe the “schmootz” off their face with a bit of a dismissive attitude. But now, I can’t imagine heading into the sacred season before Easter without participating in our Ash Wednesday service.

Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of the 40 day period known as Lent. It is a day on which believers repent for their sins by fasting, praying and asking for God’s forgiveness. The imposition of ashes on the forehead at this service symbolizes our acknowledgment of our sin. Why ashes? Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins. Today we do that on our foreheads to acknowledge our common need to repent of our sins. It marks the beginning of a season of repentance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

This year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 9th (this coming Wednesday), and we will be commemorating that day with our service at 7 pm that evening. I do hope you’ll make plans to join us as together we remember and enter into the sacred Lenten Season.

That’s Family !

This past Thanksgiving was a first for the Rothenburgs. Not that Thanksgiving was a first, but rather for the first time in our 28 years together, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house for our extended family – 16 of us, to be exact. A mish-mosh of four generations plus some future in-law family members. I thought I might be nervous about hosting this big dinner, but actually, it was fun.  I could hardly wait to set the dining room table, forcing myself to do it a bit at a time over the course of a few days, not because there was so much to do, but because I didn’t want any dust to gather on the dishes and goblets for the big day.

Finally, the big day arrived, and the most wonderful thing happened, as the doorbell rang time and time again. Person after person walked into our house, arms filled with their part of our meal – the carved turkey, the mashed potatoes, the candied yams, the herbed stuffing, the creamy gravy, the green salad, and some delectable pies, cupcakes and brownies.  Crock-pots lined our kitchen counter like electric soldiers lined up for duty, keeping warm our culinary creations in steamy, bubbly yummy-ness until feasting time.  As we each made our way through the buffet line to fill our plates and sat down around the table to enjoy the food, I was struck with how wonderful this meal was. Yes, the food was good, and yes, it was nice to be gathered with family and friends. But the most wonderful part to me was how everyone had contributed to the meal by what they brought. Everyone did their part, which left no one person with all the work, and even more so, it gave us all the joy of contributing to the whole.  That’s FAMILY!

At Oak Hills, we value being a “family” together.  You may have read about this in Pastor Kent’s recent Reality Check.  As a church family, it’s a joy that we get to come together in so many different ways to contribute to the whole – the church we love. Whether it’s being in a small group, serving in a ministry or giving financially to support the ministry of Oak Hills and our partners, the church belongs to each person who makes their home with us, of which Jesus Christ is the head.  That’s why we’re asking each individual and family to participate in our upcoming year-end offering. It’s a great and important opportunity to gather around the church we love as a family and savor the goodness of doing this together. The goal for this over-and-above offering is $100,000, which we believe to be totally doable if we all come together and do our part.  And as always, 10% of what comes in will be given to compassion ministries outside the walls of Oak Hills (this year it be divided between Powerhouse Ministries in Folsom and Restoration Ministries in Brazil). We’ll be receiving this special offering in our services on Sunday, December 19th. Would you prayerfully consider what God would have you contribute to this offering? This Christmas, we encourage you make giving a generous and sacrificial gift to the work of God happening at and through Oak Hills Church part of your family plans. Merry Christmas!

Open Eyes and Hands

by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Community Care

Years ago, I was in San Francisco for a conference with a friend. The highlight of our conference was what I was looking most forward to – where we would go for dinner.  So many choices!  We ended up at Max’s Opera Café, and I settled on a Rueben Sandwich. Let me tell you, this was not a just good sandwich. It was bliss. The meat was piled so high I could barely open my mouth wide enough to take a bite. I luxuriated in every little bit, and determined to extend the feast by setting half of it aside to be enjoyed the next day. As we left there that evening, Styrofoam container of leftovers in hand, we passed a man begging from his seat on an old milk crate on the sidewalk. With a quick glimpse I sized him up – it was clear by his appearance that he was in bad shape. Destitute. I quickly averted my eyes, remembering a piece of advice I had been given by a Denver resident while walking downtown there – “whatever you do, don’t look at the homeless people or beggars in the eye – just walk by.”

I wasn’t really sure why they told me that or what would happen if I looked, so in Denver, I didn’t look. And in lots of other places, I didn’t look. This time, though, I did. But I kept walking. About 20 feet. Then something inside me stirred, and much to my friend’s puzzlement and concern (and some of my own), I turned around and walked right up to this man. I didn’t offer him money, but asked if he was hungry. He was indeed. I offered him my prized Rueben, and he gladly took it and thanked me through his missing and dirty toothed smile. It was a beautiful smile. I was happy to bless him and to meet his need. It felt good. But I’ve learned something about myself and giving. The desire to do something for someone else simply because it makes me feel good can’t be the most compelling reason for doing it, tempting as that might be. Rather, the better reason is because each person I lock eyes with matters to God, and He means for me to be generous, to care for those in need and invest what I have into His Kingdom by being willing to give it away.  He means for me to become the kind of person who can do this easily and with joy. I have a ways to go…

At Oak Hills, we wholeheartedly believe in the scriptural mandate to help those in need; those with homes and those without. One of the ways we do that is through our Benevolence Fund. This is a special fund dedicated to providing emergency assistance to those in dire need, both in our church and in our surrounding community. Emergencies such as housing, fresh food (the Food Bank provides non-perishables), gas and utilities. Perhaps it’s surprising to you that, while we live in such an affluent area, so many people would walk through our office doors, often (not always) with great humility and sometimes even embarrassment to have to ask for help. When you give to the Benevolence Fund, you bless all kinds of people. And thank you to those who have been faithfully giving to this small fund. It’s a fund we are meant to spend, and spend with great discernment and love.

I thought it would be good to tell you about some of the people in extreme need that we are helping:

The mother of two whose husband left her for another, “better” life. The family of four who found themselves without electricity thanks to an unexpected job lay-off and mountains of unpaid bills. The family who is facing foreclosure of their home and desperately need gas for their car so the father can go on job interviews. The woman on the brink of homelessness thanks to an injury that leaves her unable to work. These are people in our community. In fact, some are part of our church. You would  never know they are in dire straits by looking at them. They may have been sitting next to you last Sunday. They have often been the one to help others and are horrified to now find themselves in the place of desperate need. They are teachers, social workers, contractors, salespeople.

With your help, we’re impacting our little corner of the world here in Folsom, California in good ways – meeting practical needs and providing emotional support and spiritual care.  And I’m so thankful. Thankful that because of your generosity, when appropriate, I can say “yes” to those in walk into my office without hope and watch them leave more hopeful, even if it’s just a bit.

What else would we do? The Bible is clear about this. Acts 2:45 says the early church “selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

Please consider touching these lives with your generosity when we receive a special offering (during our regular offering) on Sunday, October 10th in our services. This offering, intended to be “over and above” your regular giving, will hopefully enable us to help folks through the more difficult winter months. Simply write the check to Oak Hills Church and note “Benevolence” on the memo line.

As we share with others, we recognize in practical ways the sacredness of each person as one of God’s creatures. In so many ways, we’re all the same. Let us live with open eyes to see beauty in everyone and open hands to respond to their need.

Thank you for blessing others, and may you also be blessed.

Lorraine

Reunion

by Lorraine Rothenburg, Pastor of Community Care & Assimilation

Recently, with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I went home to my old stomping ground to attend my 30th high school reunion (Darn, I just gave away my age – would you buy it if I said I was one of those super smart kids that graduated at 9?).  In the car on the way over there, the butterflies in my stomach were dancing a polka, and my heart began to pound with the uncertainty of what it was going to be like to see these people again.  Nervous thoughts raced wildly through my head, like “I should have lost 20 pounds for this.  Will I recognize people?  Am I recognizable?  Will people talk to me, or remember me?”  I was happy that I had strategized my entrance to this dinner event to minimize the awkwardness by meeting a friend/classmate at the door and walking in together. Safety in numbers, you know.

We met up, walked in, and much to my relief, were immediately recognized and warmly welcomed by those on the Planning Committee. On the nametag table was a giant photo of our class in 1980, and there I was in the front row with my friend in our mascot outfits complete with cat ears and a tail (Peter and Patty Panther). Around us in this picture were football players, cheerleaders, and others dressed in red and white; our colors proudly declaring our connection to our school.

That was the beginning of a really fun evening. By the end of it, I was somewhat sad to leave.  You see, I share a history with these people. Some of us go way back to grade school. We have shared classes, teachers, events, memories and friendships. And every 10 years, we come together again, celebrate these things, “ooh” and “ahh” over how fabulous we look and then, the day after the reunion, we tuck ourselves back into our separate lives with some melancholy and longing for the next one…10 years and a lot of life from now.  When we’re with each other, there’s a sense of “belonging” because we had our childhood and school experiences in common.

Church is like that in some ways. One of the joys of being “the church” together is experiencing that sense of connection and “belonging.”  We have God and being His people in common. We share a history together filled with stories and experiences. And we get to have a reunion of sorts with each other every Sunday as we come to services, mid-week in our small groups where we celebrate God’s great story, and share our lives under the banner of Oak Hills Church.  One of the ways we demonstrate our connection (wear our colors) in the church is through membership. We “put on the team jersey” when we declare our church as “home”;  the people we are committing ourselves to, the church we are committing ourselves to love and be loved by, know and be known by, serve and be served by.  Moving from “attender” to “member” is a person’s way of formalizing their commitment to the church as part of their journey of spiritual formation.

Several times a year, we hold membership classes followed by affirming these folks as members in one of our services.  The next Member Affirmation will be October 10th. If you would like to become a member, or want to find out more about what that means and what the process entails, I want to invite  you to come to our class this Sunday at 11 am in Room M-207 (upstairs).  You’ll get lots of information (plus a decoder ring and the secret handshake – just kidding).  Hope you’ll consider taking this wonderful step in your journey with us at Oak Hills!