This is the Lord's Table and ALL are welcome!
HAPPY 2016: AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR -- "God is God. God does not belong to us. We belong to God. God does not belong to any religion. God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew. God is not a Buddist or a Mormon or a Hindu. God is God."
In support of this statement, Fr. Gary Bradley presented a two part program last Sunday which began with a macro view of God in Forum and was followed by the uniquely Episcopalian view of Baptism during the Sermon. For me this approach was wonderfully effective, no doubt in part because this is what I believe. Hopefully, I can do Fr. Gary justice in summarizing what I think I heard.
Fr. Gary used the Forum to introduce a 21 minute TED Talk by Karen Armstrong, a former nun in the Catholic Church but now an author and commentator known world wide for her work on Comparative Religions. Her talk is entitled "Charter For Compassion" and can be found on the inter-net by googling YOU TUBE Karen Armstrong. (Her talk is there. Be creative.)
My take away from her message: "We're ALL in this together, and despite our differences, we share one compelling belief -- A basic understanding of what we in the west refer to as the Golden Rule, anchored in COMPASSION!" In support of this conclusion, she noted that every where she travels, she finds people, particularly young people, yearning for compassionate leadership to change the world.
The Bottom Line: She called on the leaders of the three Monotheistic Traditions to come together to issue a Statement confirming their shared commitment to work for the greater good of ALL PEOPLE.
The 'good news' is that a person of this prominence would be speaking out in this way, given the 'bad news' that Sectarian Divisions continue to grow, not narrow.
The 'bad news' -- This presentation was given in 2008, seven years ago!!!
WITHIN THIS CONTEXT, BAPTISM AS AN EPISCOPALIAN COMMITS US TO LIVE JOURNEYS OF TOLERANCE & INCLUSION -- I know I keep urging you that this time you simply MUST listen to the Sermon included in this E-NEWS (right hand column) or click on and read it. THIS TIME I REALLY MEAN IT!!!
Teaser Lines From The Sermon:
"By your Baptism in the Episcopal Church...you begin to live your Christianity with an Episcopal emphasis. What does this mean? How does that differ from some other Christian Church practice? Two Words: tolerance and inclusion.
"Your Christianity as an Anglican, an Episcopalian, acknowledges that it is not the only religion that leads to God."
"I believe I have chosen the best pathway to God in Christianity. I do not believe I have chosen the only pathway."
"Our Episcopal Baptism is seen to bind us to Christ, but it binds us only after we agree to be bound at some (later) point in our lives."
"It absolutely does NOT offer you carte blanche salvation, but only Christ's amazing grace which alone can bring us to salvation."
"This Baptism does not exclude -- and it teaches you not to exclude anyone."
That the Sermon was a compelling one is evidenced by the fact that every single copy made available at the East Entrance to the Sanctuary was gone before I got to the door. This almost never happens!
HOW DO YOU SPELL "B-E-A-C-O-N"? "T-A-I-Z-E"!!! -- You may remember that the title of this column was chosen by Fr. Gary. He articulated a vision of THE Church of Our Saviour serving as a BEACON within the parish, within the immediate neighborhood and within the greater community, a shining light drawing people to 535 West Roses Road.
In case you have missed it, it is my view that this place "shines" like no other Episcopal church in the West San Gabriel Valley. That said, no other Ministry among COS's impressive array of offerings lives up to Fr. Gary's vision more than does theMonthly Taize Service held on the first Friday of each month. I am aware that some new parishioners have been drawn to COS first by attending this Service, and Sharon Crandall reports that she knows of people coming from far away to attend. (Unfortunately, participation by our own parishioners is not as robust as one might expect.)
Last Friday the Service was called A Prayer Vigil for Grief, Sorrow and Loss, and Sharon said it was very well attended. It was officiated by Br. Dennis Gibbs, with soloists Rebecca Rasmussen and Polly Sablan. "As people entered the churchBarbara Lester helped them write a prayer intention on a votive candle. During the prayer service people were invited to come forward and place their candle on the altar. At the end of the service each person was given a small live wood cross as a prayer token." Reading Sharon's comments, I realize yet again how much our Community is benefiting from the presence of the Community of Divine Love.
CALIFORNIA GOLD: THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR NEEDS ITS OWN HUELL HOWSER! -- In case you are not aware, a year from now THE Church of Our Saviour will begin to celebrate its 150th ANNIVERSARY. I was reminded of what a unique story COS has while watching a short DVD the Auto Club has produced about Huell Howser, his life and how he covered every single story he reported. Were he still alive, I believe he would absolutely relish doing a program on THE Church of Our Saviour.
We've got everything he loved -- historical relevance, interesting people, community involvement, a beautiful campus; AND, we continue to carry on the traditions of the original founders to even a greater degree than anyone probably could have imagined in 1867. Mrs. Florence Jones Vinton and Don Benito Wilson would be pleased, I think.
FYI, there is a wealth of written information running up to 1992 which wonderfully records the history of this place, but do you realize how much more has been accomplished in the last 25 years? Consider the following which will need to be noted:
Cleaver Clinic El Monte
Telleen Family Courtyard
Cloister Wall with St. John's Stain Glass Windows
Our Saviour Center Youth Center El Monte
Sister Parish Relationship with St. Paul's in the Galilee
Allan Hall Remodel
Ordination of 15 Priests
Community of Divine Love Monastery
Olive Tree of Peace from St. Paul's in the Galilee
There is so much material here that Huell Howser would have made this into a full one hour show.
ONE MAN'S EPIPHANY IS ANOTHER COUPLE'S CATALYST -- Our Spiritual Journey was enhanced yet again by another of Canon Phil Smith's Music For A Season offerings. This time it was a Choral Evening celebrating the EVE of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ, featuring our wonderful Our Saviour Choir and Guests AND Guest Organist Canon Edward Tipton.
For us, the highlight of the evening was the Offertory Anthem entitled Arise and Shine, Jerusalem. Aside from its beauty, what made it so special is that it is from "A Jerusalem Triptych" which was commissioned by COS in 1998 to honor the Musical Ministry of James A. Person, THE Church of Our Saviour's Director of Music, at that time.
Most of you will not remember Jim, but we do. While The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray dramatically changed the trajectory of our Journey, Jim Person altered that new trajectory substantially seven years later, in 1998, when he organized and led our very first Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Fifteen Pilgrimages later, we tell anyone who will listen about this changing experience. It served as the catalyst for further opening our eyes and ears to a whole new world AND introducing us to a group of Palestinian Christians who embody the charge "to do unto others...and care for the least among us".
For the record, this Pilgrimage initially led to the formation of a group of Episcopalians in L.A. who came together to work forPeace WITH Justice in the Holy Land. Then, for Lent 2004, Fr. Denis, a member of Person's Pilgrimage, developed a program which he called Journey to Jerusalem: Then and Now, and which included the adoption of a Sister Parish Relationship with St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Galilee. To consummate this Relationship COS brought The Rev. Fuad Dagher and family to San Gabriel that summer where he had the opportunity to meet Bishop Bruno. So successful was this meeting that Bishop Bruno introduced a Resolution to the 2004 Annual Convention establishing a Companion Relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem which continues to this day. In addition to the above, well over 800 adults and young people from this Diocese have made Pilgrimage since 2004.
As I think about it, I believe it is correct to state that none of this would have happened were it not for Jim Person organizing that first Pilgrimage in 1998. Another example of one person making difference. So, just don't sit there......!
THE THREE KINGS CAKE -- As I have stated many times, there are numerous ways to support THE Church of Our Saviour. I give you Lovey Sherman, hostess of the post Epiphany Celebration which featured the Three Kings Cake. This is her passion; this is her gift to Phil, to the Choir and to all of us. And as is nearly always the case, she was ably assisted byHenrietta Ma.