THE BEACON: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works."

"This is the Lord's table and ALL are welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017
"The Church of Our Saviour will carry on a 150 year tradition as a Christian Wellspring..."

WELLSPRING: "A SOURCE OF CONTINUAL SUPPLY OF 'INSPIRATION'" -- As I drove through the gates of 535 West Roses Road Sunday morning, I said to Sue that I really didn't have much to write about this week, the well was pretty dry. That lasted exactly 5 minutes!

CARRIE VORIS & KENNETH QUAN AT OUR SERVICE -- In the 24 years we have been parishioners, I'm not sure we ever have had a member quite like Carrie Voris. As far as I can determine, there is not one activity she has not been involved with at one time or another. Sunday she had assumed the responsibility of herding the parish "cats" to the white line in Allan Hall so that Kenneth Quan could photograph them. Not an easy task, but miracles do happen; and we are blessed with two miracle makers! I find their willingness to volunteer for this gift to the church inspiring. That said, don't expect them to contact you to have your pictures taken. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, so pick up that phone or go to your computer and make an appointment for next Sunday.

"TAKE AWAYS" FROM THE FIFTH FORUM OF LENT -- First of all, I have found the Lenten Forum Offerings to be thought provoking, and I thank Robin Kassabian, Paul Kilian and Sharon Crandall for their efforts. This week I was particularly inspired by two things. To begin with, the MARK we focused on was Transform, as in Transforming unjust structures, challenging violence of every kind, and pursuing peace and reconciliation. I believe this is the charge of EVERY person who professes to be on a Spiritual Journey; but as I said Sunday, this is the most difficult environment I have everwitnessed in which to be trying to be a transforming person. Because, we are a polarized nation right now and civil dialogue between people with opposing points of view is almost impossible. Transform? How, without dialogue? 

So, when Sharon opened the discussion for the attendees to proclaim a personal Icon of Hope that we might all be able to rally around, I chose WATER. Without it, ALL LIFE is impossible, so there should be no controversy over the topic. However, what is controversial is whether water is a commodity OR a right. I believe it is the latter, and therefore I believe the growing privatization of water opens up a whole area of conversation which no one on either side of the aisle EXCEPT Bernie Sanders has been willing to address: What responsibilities does CAPITALISM have in a democracy in addition to addressing the needs of shareholders and senior management? As a liberal who believes in free enterprise, I fear the growing separation between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is not going to end well. I propose that we talk about this, using WATER as our focus.

Finally, I want to compliment Sharon Crandall for another reason. She attended all three days of the "trial" of Bishop Bruno in Pasadena, and I was moved by her impressions of how outstanding the people who work or volunteer for the Diocese of Los Angeles are. Four in particular whom she mentioned are Ted Forbath, Clare Zabala-Bangao, The Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy and The Rev. Canon Kelli-Grace Kurtz. Behind all of the turmoil and bitterness which marked the hearing, Sharon noted that these four came across as caring and committed to the Diocese. This also has been our impression over the years, and we believe Bishop Coadjutor Elect John Taylor has a solid team awaiting him.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE HOLY LAND -- While the Diocese of Los Angeles and The Episcopal Church were expending valuable resources to pursue a canonical matter, the Christians in Shefa 'Amr where our Sister Parish is located were gathering to increase the visibility and closeness of the Christian community in the Galilee. According to Canon Fuad Dagher, the local Boy Scout Troop organized an evening gathering in which the priests from the five denominations in the city were invited to sit on a stage in a semi-circle and answer questions from the audience. Fr. Fuad said that the session, which lasted for two hours, was a lot of fun and allowed for putting more human faces on each of the priests for the audience. Ecumenism at work!!! Can you imagine this ever happening in Southern California, either within the Diocese or just among the clergy within a three mile radius of COS?              

DO YOU KNOW THAT TODAY (2017) JESUS COULD NOT GET FROM BETHANY TO BETHPAGE TO MOUNT THE DONKEY? -- If you had ever made Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, you immediately would know that under present conditions Jesus will never be able to re-enter Jerusalem, at least if he tries to start from Bethany like John recorded in The Holy Gospel (11:1-45). The Reason: Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East", has built a 27 foot high Annexation Wall on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Now, if a Pilgrim (or Jesus) chooses to visit the place where Lazarus lived and then follow in His footsteps to Bethpage and on up the Mount and down into Jerusalem, he/she is blocked by the Wall!

I realize this is Lent and almost no one wants to hear a political message from the pulpit, BUT what better time to try to highlight the challenges facing Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land than during this season? (FYI, Joseph and Mary could not enter Bethlehem today because of the same obstacle!) If Christians from wherever they locate themselves along the spectrum really cared about the holiness of the land where their Lord and Saviour was born, preached, was crucified and was resurrected, we would be speaking out about the violations being perpetrated by the Occupiers. Instead, what we have is unrestrained support for Israel at one end of the spectrum and silence at the other end. Thus endeth MY Sermon.          

COS: THE BIRTH PLACE OF PRIESTS -- I have commented frequently during this year of celebrating our 150 years about how many priests and deacons this moderately sized parish has contributed to The Episcopal Church. To date, I have counted well over 20 women and men who have either been sponsored by COS or have served us before going on to serve elsewhere with great success. Sunday the number jumped by approximately 15% as Fr. Gary made the following announcements:

Robin Kassabian: Robin has almost completed her long Journey to Ordination, so get out your calendars and mark June 3 @ 10:00 when hopefully you will be able to be at St. John's Pro-Cathedral downtown near the USC Campus to witness her advancement. June is when all Ordinands are ordained as Deacons, and then six months later in January they are ordained into the priesthood.  

Gabe Vazquez-Reyes: Gabe spent the weekend being interviewed by members of the Bishop's Commission on Ministry (BCOM). Based on what I have heard from friends around the Diocese, this first hurdle in the Discernment Process is an INTENSE experience. The word is that he performed very well, but Fr. Gary cautioned that we should all wait for the official paper work before celebrating too robustly.    

Katherine Feng: Not only is Kathy the Junior Warden representing the Mandarin Congregation, she also is moving along in the Discernment Process. In case you do not know her, she is sort of like Carrie Voris in that she appears to be everywhere doing every thing. What a gift!  

Jacob Li: Jacob is in the initial stages of the Discernment Process, giving us two members of the Mandarin Congregation working towards ordination. I'll bet no other parish in The Episcopal Church can make that statement. By the way, Angela Rong, Jacob's wife, is a newly elected member to the Vestry. 

THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR DELIVERS!!!: A PERSONAL TESTIMONY -- "I was searching 15 years ago for a bread and water survival, and I was offered a feast of opportunity instead. God is good!" This is exactly the kind of testimonial any church would love to receive from a parishioner. Interestingly, this statement comes from the Legacy Statement recently submitted by Deacon Bill Doulos to his Board of Advisors. Ultimately, this will become a part of the compilation of the 150 years of history at THE Church of Our Saviour. 

In the meantime, I think it is appropriate to highlight what has been accomplished here over the last 15 years. The Rev. Canon Denis & Lyn O'Pray got the ball rolling in 2002, and then it was Parish Administrator Kelly Andrews and Treasurer John Quinn who resolved the financial issues and secured four 15 year mortgages on the 50 beds in the remaining four homes. After Kelly and John moved on, Yuhadhi Sundaramoorthy and Will Dumain assumed the responsibilities for overseeing the Ministry, guiding it to its current healthy state. Within a year and a half from now, all of Jubilee's debt will be paid in full, and the Ministry will have an additional monthly free cash flow of $8,500. In addition, in 2020 the proceeds from a trust exceeding $200,000 also will accrue to Jubilee. During this time frame it also important to recognize the incredible contribution to the success of the Ministry that was made by the late Bill Morgan. Also not to be overlooked is the fact that Bill Doulos entered and completed the Discernment Process and was ordained as The Episcopal Church's oldest Deacon! More will be revealed later about this marvelous, life saving COS Outreach, including codifying Deacon Bill's vision for the future.  

JOURNEY WITH COS FOREVER -- As I approach my 80th year and reflect on some family experiences, I have some important, free advice both for my peers and for you younger folks if you have parents. To begin with, you all have to trust me when I tell you the Journey gets a little more complicated the older you get. Moreover, "older" is not the "older" of yesterday. When Social Security was created, 65 was picked as the retirement age because most people were not expected to live very far beyond that age. Today, I think the median age at Royal Oaks where we live is probably approaching 85! So, here are my two pearls of wisdom:

  1. Because you are going to live longer than you think, you need to consider down sizing before you become too old to do so yourself. This is particualrly true for those of you living in two story homes, AND those of you who have lived in the same home for many years. On the one hand, stairs are dangerous, and on the other you have no right to leave your kids an archaeological dig when you're gone. Do everyone a favor and plan ahead.
  2. Speaking of planning ahead, experience moved Sue and me to purchase our "permanent residence" many years ago. We did not want to leave this decision to either of us down the road or to our daughters. Thus, for anyone who cares, we will be right over the low wall at the end of the COS parking lot. Close enough to hear the music but probably not the Sermons.

Fortunately for you all, you have another option which was not available to us 20 years ago. You get to live forever right next door to the Sanctuary in the beautiful MESSLER COLUMBARIUM. Not only will you be able to hear the music and the Sermons BUT also the peaceful sound of the Allan Fountain. There are 100 niches on each side of the two walls facing the fountain, with each having space available for two urns. If you have not taken time to visit this oasis of peace, you are missing a lovely part of our lovely Campus. =

If you are moved to think longer term, contact Deacon Bill Doulos who has assumed sales responsibilities from Ben Harrington who made the Messler Columbarium a reality.         

RAY WELLS: HE DOES NOT WALK ALONE!!! -- Ray is the father of Page and John, both of whom served as acolytes in their younger years. We first got to know Ray 15 years ago when we all served as Stephen Ministers under the guidance of Gayle MacGregor. He subsequently went in another direction, but we always have enjoyed greeting each other when our paths crossed. Unfortunately, more recently we have become aware of a change in his Journey which he and his wife May have announced on Facebook. Here is May's posting:

"RAY - SWEET, KIND, FUNNY, GENEROUS, LOVABLE, WARM, HAPPY, ALL-AROUND-GOOD-GUY - WAS DIAGNOSED IN FEBRUARY 2016 WITH YOUNG ONSET ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE."

Ray just celebrated his 57th birthday!!! As a great believer in transparency, I am so impressed with the candor of the Wells family. I am convinced that the more open one is about whatever the issue is, the faster solutions will be forthcoming. Consider the progress made in reducing drunk driving (MADD), combating breast and prostate cancers, fighting AIDS and eliminating smoking, to name just a few in my life time. Publicity and education are the key!

Go to either Wells' Facebook page and see how he has become a poster "boy" for #EndAlz. He and May are courageous, and we owe them our thanks and prayers.      

A PLAQUE BIG ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THE SOUTH WALL OF THE OLD SANCTUARY -- Saturday afternoon the Native Sons of the Golden West Ramona Parlor recognized THE Church of Our Saviour's 150th Anniversary with a beautiful plaque. You can see it as you exit the east door of the Sanctuary where Fr. Gary and the other preachers stand after the Service. I am told by both Tom Lenzo and Sally Baldwin that attendance at the evening Program filled Cleaver Hall to capacity and that Nat Read's presentation was similar to the one he gave at Our Saviour Sunday last September but bawdier.

A HOLY LAND MEMORY FOR EASTER -- On our second Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1999, one of the most memorable experiences was a crack of dawn Walking of the Stations of the Cross. At day break 40 of us were standing in front of the First Station but unable to enter immediately. The reason -- another group of Pilgrims already was in the Chapel, singing hymns at the tops of their voices. This was a powerful moment, first because of the deep, baritone voices coming from the Chapel but also because of the acoustics provided by the stone floors and walls. (Canon Phil Smith will appreciate that there are NO CARPETS in any church we have ever visited in the Holy Land!) Then, when the doors were opened and the Pilgrims started to file out, we understood why the hymns we heard were so unique. The singers all were very tall men serving as U.N. Peacekeepers from Fiji! This set the tone for the rest of the Stations. We will never forget this experience!           

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