Mark 8:34: Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
I must say that this is not one of my favorite Bible passages. Truth be told, I have railed against this image my entire life. I remember a sign that was on the door of the crafts cabin at the church camp I attended as a child. On a piece of driftwood was painted the simple word, “JOY” in vertical letters… “J” on the top; “O” in the middle; and “Y” on the bottom. The crafts director used that sign as an illustration of how we were to order our world. “J” – Jesus – always came first. Then “O” – Others – were to be recognized. And then finally “Y” – You – always came last. At least for me, the implied message was that Self was always the last to be addressed, the last to be honored, the last to be appreciated. Everything and everyone else always came first.
Greetings everyone! Please allow me to introduce myself electronically to you all. My name is Bob Honeychurch, and I began as your new Interim Rector this past Monday. It is a real joy for me to walk alongside the Church of Our Saviour community during this time of transition between rectors. In my short time with you so far, I have found you all to be a wonderful group of faithful, passionate, and committed Christians who gather in this beautiful place as God’s holy people.
The passage from Mark which is our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday is a favorite of mine because it contains this statement: Jesus “was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”
I am intrigued by the phrase “with the wild beasts.” What is the relevance?
I choose to take these “wild beasts” as a metaphor for the temptations that Satan offers up to Jesus in this wilderness setting. The wilderness itself can be a metaphor for the place where we are most apt to encounter God, on the one hand, and, apparently, temptation on the other. God can come very close to us, and God’s angels can be very comforting to us, when we are most likely to be led astray. We retreat to the wilderness to confront our demons. God is doing battle with the worst that can befall us, to protect us and to help us to emerge victorious from our earthly struggles.
Humans love routine. I have recently been reading through some parenting books as I am getting ready to have a little baby around. One tip that continues to repeat is to “keep your baby on a routine!”: Bathe her at the same time, put her to bed at the same time (or as near as we can manage that). This craving routine is apparently built into our instincts, and over the eons of existence, and gives us this sense of comfort. But change is constant, and our routines get messed up and tossed out because crying babies do not read parenting books or abide by their rules. Witnessing the Divine severely messes up your routine. Occasionally, I wonder if the Apostles wished they could go back to their fishing boats or just have a day off from all the mind-bending miracles that they witnessed. And in this Gospel, we have another moment of human response trying desperately to keep up with the Divine before them.
Reflection on Mark 1:20-39
In this chapter Mark tells us about Jesus going to a synagogue and encountering an unclean spirit and casting him out. This was quite a feat and this act caused a sensation where people sought out Jesus to see him. Mark also talks about Jesus going to Simon’s house and healing his mother in law. Hs fame grew and people sought him out to perform his miracles and listen to his teachings.
Re-cap of Forum, Sunday 1-21-2018
Thank you to all that could be a part of the joyous celebration of Father Gary and Peg’s life at this church. Love could be felt in every corner of this campus. Gary and Peg were surprised by the trees (and the plaques below them) that were planted to honor their ministries too the Church of Our Saviour. The trees are oak trees and are planted in the back parking lot. Please visit the trees and say hello to them.
This week I am at a conference called Forma, which is a yearly conference for Christian Educators for Youth & Children and Adults. I like to come to these conferences, but there sometimes is an annoying pattern I see in some of the Youth Ministry stuff that comes to show their wares at these conferences. It’s all about subscription boxes this year, and there are monthly kits you can sign up for that will “grow” your ministry or “get your students fired up for Jesus”. I have no illusions that these companies need to make money, however they bill themselves as the end all be all authority that we are supposed to follow and they will lead us to greater truth and faith. As I am reflecting on this weeks Gospel, I wonder if sometimes we do a lot of listening to the scribes, so much so that we can’t hear God.
In this weeks Gospel of Mark, Jesus is beginning his ministry. Mark describes how Jesus walks along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, spots the brothers Simon and Andrew fishing and calls them to drop what they are doing and follow him. In this telling of the gospel, he walks further down the beach and calls to James and John. They too, drop their nets and follow Jesus. Fishermen leave their livelihood to follow a rabbi starting a new ministry.
From the Senior Warden-
Fr. Bob Honeychurch will begin his interim ministry with the Church of Our Saviour on Feb. 12. This is the week that Lent begins. Ash Wednesday will be the first time many parishioners have the opportunity to meet Father Bob Honeychurch.
THE BEACON: MAY OUR LIVES BE BEACONS OF JUSTICE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE AND HOPE!
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary Bradley 2018
"IT WAS LIKE A SOUND BATH - HEALING AND TRANSCENDENT! EVENSONG ON THE EVE OF EPIPHANY ... CHOIR OF 26 SINGING PSALMS" -- These are the words Sr. Greta Ronningen posted on social media just after she had participated in Canon Phil Smith's Music for a Season's SOLEMN CHORAL EVENSONG. Sue and I can testify that Sr. Greta's statement is not an exaggeration; it was an Epiphany experience which we needed desperately! All I can say is you are missing incredible offerings if you do not avail yourself of the opportunity to hear COS's magnificent Choir perform its remaining Music for a Season Programs. THANK YOU, CHOIR & THANK YOU, CANON PHIL SMITH.
Our Hope for Years to Come
The ever-rolling stream of time has borne Peg and me to this Sunday's celebration of 100 years.
Peg entered the Convent of the Sisters of Loretto in 1972 and I entered Regina Cleri Seminary in 1962. That's 45 plus 55 years ago.
Peg graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Education and Special Ed in 1978 and taught in parochial schools for 23 years.
Here is an article that I found a few years ago, and helps me in preparing for this last week of Epiphany. COME celebrate with us, a service of Evensong (Evening Prayer) with Our Saviour Choir and guests, with Dr. Tom Mueller, guest organist.
HISTORY, TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS
The Church's celebration of Epiphany ("manifestation), the "twelfth night of Christmas," apparently originated in Egypt sometime during the third century, thus the Church's celebration of this feast predates even the celebration of Christmas itself.
41 Years -- COS Staff!
Here's the plan: HELP YOLANDA PAYOFF HER MORTGAGE! A "purse" will be collected and given to Yolanda this coming Sunday at the celebrations after both services.
In the year of the US Bicentennial in 1976, the 24-year-old Yolanda Galeazzi, recently emigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico, began working for A Child's Garden School at The Church of Our Saviour. Her modest salary job expanded to full time as she took on housekeeping chores for the parish facilities. A few years later her husband joined the maintenance staff of the church where he remained for 25 years until his health prohibited him from continuing.
In his Christmas Message, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry quotes this poem by Howard Thurman:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
Then the work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace to others,
And alas, to make music in the heart.
MAY ALL OUR LIVES BE BEACONS OF JUSTICE, PEACE, LOVE AND HOPE!
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary Bradley 2017
DECEMBER 16 & 17 EPITOMIZE WHAT MAKES THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR SUCH A GREAT COMMUNITY!!!
DECEMBER 16: OUR SAVIOUR CENTER'S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY -- I was not in El Monte at 4368 Santa Anita Ave. Saturday morning, but many, many other parishioners were, as witnessed by the comments from Jane Fall, OSC's Executive Director:
"Over 800 children received early Christmas presents at Our Saviour Center's annual Christmas party. In addition to individually wrapped gifts, children were treated to popcorn, cookies, face painting and crafts. A big thank you to Methodist Hospital for providing free blood pressure screening to adults. Once again, COS volunteers became Santa's Elves to make this wonderful party possible. Special thanks to Fr. Gary and Mother Peg Bradley, Fr. Thomas Ni, Will Dumain, Sherm and Marge Telleen, Jerry and Beverly Harris, Lovey Sherman, Roger Cairns, Patti Teele, Kim Sirean, Rex Botengan, Julie Liu, Brenda Maceo and her 2 adult children, Charlotte Van Fleet and granddaughter, Henrietta Ma, Katherine Feng and about ten members of our Chinese congregation, Jane He, Trish Healy, Justin Inda, Tom and Doni Satorhelyi, Yuhadhi and Gabby Sundaramoorthy and their two children and many others.
Advent IV has been celebrated at odd intervals in the Calendar. Since 1950, there was 11 years, 1961, then 1967, 72, 78, 89 (11 year interval), 95, 2000, 06, 17, then we will celebrate again in 2023, and 2028. This means that we celebrate TWO events of the Advent/Christmas season on the same day! So, on the Sunday, the 24th, we will celebrate with Holy Communion at the 8:00 am service and at the 10 am, Morning Prayer: Rite Two.
THE BEACON: CELEBRATING KNEELING IN THE THE SAME LOCATION FOR 150 YEARS!
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary Bradley
OUR PRAYER FOR CHRISTMAS & BEYOND --
Ten measures of beauty God gave to the world,
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest
Ten measures of sorrow God gave to the world,
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest.
So pray for the peace -- pray for the peace
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
Pray for the peace -- pray for the peace
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
You can greet your friends with the word "shalom"
Or you can greet the with "salaam"
But peace itself will never come
Till there's justice for everyone
And there can be no peace for the Jew
Till there's peace for the Palestinian too. (Refrain)
May the justice of God fall down like fire
And bring a home for the Palestinians
May the mercy of God pour down like rain
And protect the Jewish people
May the beautiful eyes of a holy God
Who weeps for all his children
Bring healing hope for his wounded ones
For the Jew and the Palestinian (Refrain)
During this season of Advent, Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica reminds us how we should live our lives in preparation for Christ’s return. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Paul’s instructions are quite clear, but not so easy to practice in our daily lives, even in the joyful Christmas season. We live in an imperfect world, and I am most certainly a fallen sinner, so I know I can’t realistically meet Paul’s standards, 24/7, 365 days a year.
THE BEACON: CELEBRATING KNEELING IN THE SAME LOCATION FOR 150 YEARS!
This is the Lord's Table and ALL are welcome! Fr. Gary Bradley 2017
"COMMUNION IS NOT FOR THE PERFECT. COMMUNION IS FOR THE HUNGRY!" -- This statement is from Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, and it was the quote which Bishop John Taylor, the Seventh Bishop of Los Angeles, used to close his 45 minute address to our Annual Convention last Friday. Sue and I found his witnessing to be truly remarkable and inspirational as he recognized the realities of 2017 while expressing enormous optimism about the future.
“Comfort, O comfort my people” words so familiar to us, particularly if we listen to Handel’s Messiah and so appropriate at a time when there is so much violence. Every day we hear how many people have been killed, robbed, molested, are hungry and desperate. As we continue to read Isaiah we hear many other admonitions but the first is “comfort.” And then the prophet goes on to tell us to “cry out”. That’s an easy one we say, after all there is much to cry out about.