THE BEACON: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works." Matthew 5:16
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017
ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!
THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!!!
ONE COUPLE'S EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE & JOY -- Perhaps it is our collective state of mind, but for Sue and me Holy Week and Easter 2017 were very, very special, both because of the Community we are blessed to be members of AND for personal reasons (See Below). First of all, I want to rave about you all! Fr. Gary noted during his sermon at the 9:00 Service that "Something brought a lot of people here this morning-- granted not as many as packed this place 25 years ago -- but some sort of wonder brought you." True, the quantity was down a little, BUT for us the QUALITY of the Service and QUALITY of the COMMUNITY have never been higher!
What was striking was the incredible number of clergy, staff and laity it took to bring this Holy Week together. Actually, the word "took" is inappropriate; what was incredible was the number of people who volunteered to make every Holy Week Event a very special experience. COS really is blessed to have so many people wanting to participate in making sure our witnessing was memorable. Alleluia!
Because I am retired and have time for this sort of exercise, I counted well over 30 people involved in JUST the 9:00 Service. This DID NOT INCLUDE the members of the Choir or the Altar Guild. Neither did it include the members of Jane Fall's Hospitality Team -- Linda Goluskin, Diane Rivera, Will Dumain, Henrietta Ma, David Coleman, Debbie Andersen, Patti Beith AND the Vestry who provided food between services.
Other memories of Sunday include being greeted by The Handbell Choir playing Easter Peal and Joyful Melody as we entered the Sanctuary. Directed by Alice Rucker, the ten hands belonged to Debbie Andersen, Sara Dooley, Kathy Macauley, Kim Sirean and Patti Teale. There are some wonderful pictures of them on Facebook (or here!) as well as some very moving shots of Taylor Vazquez-Reyes' Children's Choirs. Always lifting my heart and usually eliciting tears, was the inclusion of THE Church of Our Saviour Banner in the Procession. Thank You, Jean Johnson, for this wonderful reminder of our history: "Est. 1867". This Sunday even the Peace was something special. I sensed a genuine love all around us, exemplified even more than usual by Tom Shenk's Weekly Trek diagonally across the Sanctuary to say hello even though he was not feeling well. Sue also was gratified to have the opportunity to greet Reid and Kathy Allen and their daughter who were able to have fabulous views of the Service because of the establishment of the wheel chair accessible area. Living in a retirement community where there are periodic "Walker Sig Alerts", I truly appreciate the importance of accessibility. Finally, as if the beauty of the of Sanctuary and the powerfully emotional music and the Sermon and the Community of the Peace were not enough, our morning was topped off at the Communion Rail when The Rev. Peg Bradley blessed each of us with an unexpected kiss on the forehead! It REALLY does not get much better than this!
A PICTURE IS WORTH 1,000 WORDS: DID YOU SEE THE GROUP PICTURE OF THE ALTAR GUILD & FRIENDS TAKEN SATURDAY MORNING IN THE SANCTUARY? -- This picture was posted on Facebook (or here!) by several people; and for Sue and me it really set the tone for Easter Sunday. Not only were the Altar Guild stalwarts gathered, but so were a number of other parishioners who came to volunteer. I counted at least 30 people, and I was told that because of the wonderful turnout, the challenge of decorating the Sanctuary went much more quickly than usual. LET US ALL REMEMBER THIS NEXT YEAR. By the way, in this Season of Miracles, one of the things that really impressed me was how in the world Anne Peplow, Juli Kennedy and Michele Baker were able to get up from the seated positions they had assumed for the Team Picture!
Over and above the gift of Community and the flexibility of some of our Altar Guild members, the Bottom Line was the most incredibly beautiful church imaginable!!! THE Church of Our Saviour and our Easter guests were truly blessed Sunday morning.
SPEAKING OF COMMUNITY, ALTAR GUILD + SAGES = CROSSES, CROSSES, CROSSES!!! -- Under the leadership of Altar Guild Chair Debbie Andersen, with an assist from SAGES Chair Sue Smock, five tables of parishioners gathered on the Thursday before Palm Sunday to assemble Palm Frond Crosses. Debbie reported that the workers were so successful that she hopes this will become an annual affair. On top of everything else, apparently the potato bar also was a big draw, AND these folks produced enough Crosses so that the PRISM Chaplains were able to take a large number to the jails. There is a wonderful picture of the Crosses on Sr. Greta's facebook page.
Yet another great example of what COMMUNITY looks like!
IS THERE A BETTER MINISTER OF MUSIC & ORGANIST THAN CANON PHIL SMITH (?) OR A BETTER CHOIR THAN THE COS CHOIR (?) -- As far as we are concerned, the answer is a resounding "NO!".
CANON PHIL + FRIENDS = THE BLESSED SOUND OF MUSIC --
We were out of town on Palm Sunday (See Below), but we heard from Michele Baker that the music was spectacular. She mentioned specifically the contribution of Brett Banducci who performed "Ah, Holy Jesus" for viola and choir set by John Ferguson. Then, on Good Friday Evening, we heard from almost everyone that the music was unparalleled; and of course the 11:00 Sunday Service included the brass. I have no idea how many hours the members of the Choir dedicated to Holy Week, but it was an enormous amount of time. We owe each of them and Canon Phil enormous thanks. I don't think it has ever been done; but if I were the Bishop, I would make Phil a double Canon of the Diocese. Canon Canon Phil Smith: I like the ring of it!
THE MATTHEW 25:36 AWARD: "I was in prison and you came to visit me." -- From the Diocese of Los Angeles' Episcopal News Update:
Sheriff's Dept. Honors Episcopal Deacon: "The Rev. Dennis Gibbs was honored April 6 as Volunteer of the Year by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in honor of his 'hard work, dedication, and selfless service'. Gibbs, a deacon, is a member of the Community of Divine Love monastery in San Gabriel and executive director of PRISM, the diocese's restorative justice ministry, which provides chaplains for Los Angeles County hospitals and jails."
What Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta Ronningen and Sr. MJ Johnston have accomplished as Chaplains in the jails of L. A. County is astonishing. In the beginning Br. Dennis entered as a Chaplain under the auspices of the Catholic Church, but over time the Sheriff recognized the unique gifts the Episcopal Church Chaplains offered and now Episcopalians operate as an independent denomination. More recently, the Sheriff has asked the Monks to establish and oversee a Chaplaincy which serves as "greeters" of those who are entering the system for the very first time. This is so important because this is when people are at their most vulnerable. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PRISM RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CHAPLAINS.
HERE'S WHERE THE FUTURE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH LIES -- In the L.A. Times on April 3 was a lengthy article about the Head Chaplain at USC. The focus of the writer was on the fact that this man is a Hindu lawyer, one of the first non-Protestant chaplains on any college campus in the country. Intrigued by his comments about today's students, I googled Varun Soni and found an article containing some other interesting quotes. Here are some of them which we might want to discuss at length going forward:
"Community service projects in low-income neighborhoods bring together students from many religious backgrounds. 'What we see is that our generation of students (is) less interested in traditional religious service and doctrine, and more interested in community service and religious experience and engagement and conversation.'"
"We've oriented our office not around God, but around meaning and purpose, and the ultimate question that students ask...the questions that connect us as humans...why am I here, what is my purpose, what does it all mean?"
"Members of this so-called Millennial Generation want to find fulfilling work. 'Our students aren't just interested in being physicians. They want to be global health practitioners. They're not just interested in being business people. They want to be social entrepreneurs.'"
I believe this parish has an array of Outreach Ministries which would appeal to the population Sorin is talking about. Therefore, I suggest this parish needs to explore ways to 'market our product' to these folks and that we approach the Canterbury Club at USC with a presentation which might help us determine what resonates with them.
NO APRIL FOOL'S JOKE -- Treasurer Will Dumain proudly reported to me on Easter Morning that the mortgage on the Jubilee Transitional Housing Fair Oaks House was paid off on April 1. This is the first of four mortgages on the houses which will be paid off by the end of 2019. This just further strengthens what is already a very strong Balance Sheet.
PALM SUNDAY 9,108 MILES AWAY -- Even though we were not in San Gabriel on Palm Sunday, we nevertheless had a music inspired experience which I want to share with you because it pretty much made this Palm Sunday the very best EVER for us! First, two back stories:
Back Story No. 1 ) We were in Three Rivers, site of the 44th Annual Jazzaffair Festival. Older parishioners such as former Jazzaffair regulars Dan & Gail Banks will appreciate the draw of this event, even if it occurs on Palm Sunday weekend. For us, this is where we have been on the second week end of April for 36 years!
Jazzaffair is a local effort anchored by the resident town band known world wide as the High Sierra Jazz Band. Eight other bands from around the country were in attendance, playing at St. Anthony's Retreat Center Sanctuary, the Memorial Building, the Memorial Tent and the Lion's Club Roping Arena. It doesn't get much more Americana than this, made even more incredible by the fact that Three Rivers is nestled in the foothills of the snowcapped Sierras and Sequoia National Park.
Back Story No. 2 -- As readers of the BEACON know, our daughter Katie Lacy was spending the two weeks leading up to Easter in Ethiopia. Although a highly spiritual person by any definition of the word, she is not a member of any church or denomination. Even so, she was in Ethiopia with 15 members of Faith Chapel, an evangelical church in Billings, MT., members of which established the Tomorrow Come Foundation 10 years ago to build a school and orphanage. Katie is the part time employee the foundation hired to co-ordinate the growth of the Outreach Ministry, but she definitely was NOT comfortable or interested in evangelizing on behalf of ANY denomination. Her feelings notwithstanding, every member of her group was required to bear testimony at some time during the trip.
SUNDAY MORNING @ 10:00 -- The day could not have been more beautiful, and Sue and I were sitting in the sun at the Lion's Roping Arena when the Grand Dominion Jazz Band started its programs of hymns. This group consists of a bunch of older guys (SAGES types) from the pacific northwest, and their repertoire was unlike any we have ever heard at a dixie land Sunday Service. Their first offering was an unbelievably moving rendition of "Light From the Lighthouse", and the Chorus went like this:
Let the light from the lighthouse
Let it shine on me
Let the light from the lighthouse
Let it shine on me
Let the light from the lighthouse
Let it shine on me
I wonder if the light from the lighthouse
Would shine, would shine on me!
God was listening because the light on Sue's phone lighted up during the hymn, with the following exchange of texts from Katie from just outside Addis Ababa, 9,108 miles away, AND her sister in Monrovia:
KATE: "So I gave my testimony. I kind of talked through my ideas in the shower the night before. I talked about always believing in God and going to church sometimes/rarely. And about Jerusalem (she and Molly made Pilgrimage with COS in 2013)...I told them I was intimidated because I was at a different place in my journey than they were. That I was more in my infancy and that I was afraid they would be disappointed or disapproving. Several cried and said they never knew. That I fit in perfectly and that they were thrilled by my passion for the kids, and it didn't matter."
MOLLY: "Speaking your truth is the only path here. So glad that was honored and respected! Don't ever underestimate the enormous contributions you bring to the table, even if you do drop the body of Christ sometimes! (Katie dropped her wafer during Communion at the Billings Airport just before they left!) Super proud of you!"
KATE: "You are the greatest sister ever! Thanks for all the support and love."
BEST PALM SUNDAY SERVICE, EVER!!!!!!!
TEARS 'R' US!!! -- How emotional was this Palm Sunday experience? During the playing of "Let the light of the lighthouse shine on me" and receiving Katie's text, I looked down at the concrete beneath my feet. It was splattered with many, many tear drops! This happened once before in my Spiritual Journey, outside the First Station of the Cross in Jerusalem while listening to the Fijian Peacekeepers sing inside.
LISA MONDORI AND THE "BOYS" SPENT HOLY WEEK IN THE HOLY LAND!!! -- I have no vested interest in facebook whatsoever EXCEPT that there are those who really know how to utilize it. One is Lisa Mondori; and if you are a FB friend of hers, you can take a vicarious Pilgrimage of the Holy Land by viewing over 150 pictures of her trip. OR, you can become one of The Rev. Canon Fuad Dagher's 4,201 friends, and you can view his numerous postings during the week. Highlights include the processing of the large, flower bedecked Cross on Good Friday which the men of the parish carried around the town, an unscheduled Service remembering the Egyptian Coptic Christians, the ringing of St. Paul's Bell to acknowledge that Christ Has Risen, a wonderful Anglican Hymn sung in Arabic in the stone Sanctuary (Phil's dream come true) and finally a visitation by the the leadership of the Druze Patriarchy to the Rectory. Do not let anyone tell you the Palestinian Christian Community is abandoning the Holy Land. They are alive and very well, INDEED, in the Galilee!!!
A COUNTRY'S VALUES CAN BE MEASURED BY HOW IT CHOOSES TO ALLOCATE ITS RESOURCES -- Consider this: The U.S. spends $596 billion a year on defense; the nest seven counties -- China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, India, France and Japan -- combined spend $569 billion. Aside from the absurdity of the number (Do you feel safer, now?), think of how much better these resources could be used to advance the well being of our citizens or our infrastructure or... By the way, the "Mother of All Bombs" dropped on Maunday Thursday cost $300 million to develop and $15 million per copy; and the 59 Tomahawk missiles fired into Syria cost $500,000 a piece.
GO FIGURE!!! -- In 2013, 38% of democrats SUPPORTED bombing Syria vs. 22% of republicans AGAINST. In 2017, 37% of democrats supported this action vs. 86%!!! of republicans.
A REMINDER -- Some of you may actually read this tome in its entirety and then exclaim "Geez, doesn't he have an editor?!" Actually, I do, but that's not the point. You all, presumably, are Episcopalians, and Robin Williams claimed that we do not leave reason at the door. Neither should you when you read the BEACON. The Sections are reasonably well marked; pick and choose. You are not forced to read about why "Palm Sunday 9,108 Miles Away" was important to us.