THE BEACON: CELEBRATING A FAITH BASED COMMUNITY WHERE THE LORD'S TABLE IS ALWAYS OPEN TO ALL!!!
A BEACON HIDDEN IS A BEACON UNSEEN -- There ALWAYS is something going on within THE Church of Our Saviour family. That said, because we Episcopalians are so low profile, all too often one has to really search for stories about what's going on around here. Fortunately for you all, I spend a lot of time in my La-Z-Boy Office reading about the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church (U.S.) and the Diocese of Los Angeles. For the record, we in this Diocese are blessed to have an outstanding staff of reporters led by Canon Janet Kawamoto following events around Southern California. If you read nothing else related to the Episcopal Church, I urge you to subscribe on line to "The Episcopal Diocese News Update". Here are some things I discovered about the COS staff over the last two weeks from reading that publication:
August 12 -- The lead article in this issue featured the Asian-American Ministries of the Episcopal Asianamerica Ministry (EAM) of the Diocese hosting a luau on the roof of the Cathedral Center. Participants included representatives from the Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese communities, and the article noted the presence of the Li Tim-Oi Center for Chinese Ministry located at THE Church of Our Saviour San Gabriel. Although not mentioned, I assume The Rev. Thomas Ni was visibly involved. Good for them.
August 12 -- Bloy House, the Episcopal Seminary at the Claremont School of Theology, and the diocesan Office for Formation & Transition Ministry announced two new courses for lay leadership. Also new was the fact that at least one of them was going to be taught at a location other than on the Claremont campus to make it more geographically attractive. The first class is entitled "Understanding the Nature of Leadership in the Context of a Church Community" and is designed to investigate the process of creating substantive and meaningful transformation in a parish. This description sounds like it was designed precisely for what COS is in the process of pursuing. Coincidentally, it is being taught by The Rev. Bob Honeychurch at THE Church of Our Saviour! The first class began in Wednesday, August 22 from 4:00 to 6:00. No other details were available.
August 17 -- Another featured article covered Cursillo of the Diocese of Los Angeles announcing it will hold a GRAND ULTREYA which it is titling "Cursillo: It's More Than Just A Weekend". Yet again, a COS staff member was the featured individual, this time Brother Dennis Gibbs, a member of the Community of Divine Love and a lead Chaplain of the PRISM RESTORATIVE JUSTICE ministry of the Diocese. The gathering was held at the Cathedral Center on August 25, and Br. Dennis was the featured speaker on a program which included sessions such as "Servant Community", "Supporting Others On Our Walk Together" and "Way Of Life: Piety, Study & Action".
August 17 -- Finally, Sr. Greta Ronningen, the other member of the Community of Divine Love and co-leader of PRISM, received extensive coverage for a Retreat at which she will be featured from September 20 to 23 at the Holy Cross Monastery in Westpoint, NY. Entitled "Living Love Mystically and Apostolically", Sr. Greta will explore stories of the Beguines, 13th century women who left lives of comfort to live in mystical union with God.
My bottom line for reporting the above four articles to you is to emphasize just how visible and involved members of this parish are in the greater life of the Diocese. As I will reiterate later, there are only a few other parishes in this Diocese who offer as many ways to pursue one's Spiritual Journey as COS does.
THE CHALLENGE OF COMMUNICATION: FR. HONEYCHURCH'S SERMON -- I'm going to have to hear or read Fr. Bob's Sermon again, maybe even several times, to assimilate all that he laid on us Sunday, but one take-away I think I heard supports my point above. (READ SERMON HERE) The ability to communicate is critical to spreading the word. Jesus obviously was able to accomplish this, otherwise we would not be spending our Sunday mornings at 531 West Roses Road. Fr. Bob also mentioned Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, but what I found really interesting was his emphasis on the fact that all three of these communicators were able to deliver their messages in straight forward ways which their respective audiences understood clearly. Dare I say that what each had to say was RELEVANT to the needs of the people at the times they heard the messages. To this end, I think Fr. Bob suggested that we Christians, we Episcopalians, may be delivering our messages in somewhat oblique terms which we may need to reconsider as we wade farther into the 21st century. Fr. Bob may want to correct my interpretation of his thoughts, but for now this works for me. I believe from the bottom of my heart that COS has the opportunity going forward to prove the RELEVANCY of a faith based, community oriented Spiritual Journey IF effectively communicated.
'CHANGE': ARE YOU A BELIEVER(?) OR DENIER(?): CONSIDER "WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR" VS. "ON THE BRINK OF EVERYTHING" -- So, Sue and I were driving to Three Rivers while listening to The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" which we had dug out of a pile of old CDs. Fantastic songs, and we two 80 year olds were singing along when Song # 13 came up! Here is the verse we heard: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?"
This song was co-written by John Lenon and Paul McCartney, then 27 and 25 respectively, in 1967. Obviously, to them and in the context of the 1960's, 64 was considered to be really old and near the "end of the Journey"!
Fast forward to August, 2018. Sue and I are simultaneously reading 79 year old Parker Palmer's "ON the BRINK of EVERYTHING: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old". He believes AGING is a passage of discovery and engagement; "Age itself is no excuse to wade in the shallows. It's a reason to dive deep and take creative risks." Looking back on eight decades of life, he explores what he's learning about self and world. "The laws of nature that dictate sundown dictate our demise. But how we travel the arc toward the sunset of our lives is ours to choose: will it be denial, defiance, or collaboration?"
By the way, Palmer is the same man who wrote "Let Your Life Speak", one of the most important books I have ever read. I'll bet I've given away at least a dozen copies to younger family members and an occasional friend. It is he who first made me aware that I was born with "gifts" which I obviously was challenged to identify. However, there was another more important challenge, the challenge which dramatically changed the direction of my Journey. That challenge? To honestly identify what were my "non-gifts" and AVOID them!!! Had I had this book available to me 40 years ago, trust me when I tell you that there are several career decisions which I would never have made.
FOUR COS 'COLLABORATORS' --
Harry Baldwin: Speaking of "diving into the deep water", Sally Baldwin reports on facebook that Harry rose at the crack of dawn on Saturday, August 25, to join the Historic Walk of Los Pobledores from the San Gabriel Mission to the Plaza at Olvera Street. This is an annual event scheduled as close to September 4 as possible to mark the establishment of the City of Los Angeles in 1781. Do you know how long this walk is? 9 (Nine) Miles!!! Certainly longer than the Beatles thought a 64 year old could negotiate in 1967! Parker Palmer would love Harry Baldwin.
Jonathan Burke: COS has in Jonathan a dedicated student of the history of Christianity and of the Anglican Communion and its traditions. I have always been aware of his passion for these subjects, but his presentation at last Sunday's Forum was truly amazing. The wealth of knowledge this man knows about our Book of Common Prayer only scratches the surface. Listening to him, one gets the impression that he could expand on any one topic for ever if he just had enough time AND his audience understood his terminology. This I know; if 'Jeopardy' had a show in which the ONLY topic was the history of scripture, Old and New, and Christian history, no one would outscore Jonathan Burke. Although his unique talents are not readily evident to most parishioners, I know the COS staff appreciates this wonderful resource, AND so do the students of Bloy House, the Diocese of Los Angeles' Seminary at the Claremont School of Theology, where he teaches Greek in his spare time!
Ed Andersen & Tom Shenk: Are you ready? While most of us have been focused on living life one day at a time, coping with challenges in some cases which we never imagined would come our way, Ed and Tom, long time parishioners and spiritual friends, were not wading in the shallow waters. They have collaborated to write a book which they have titled "the truth about FORGIVENESS, what your therapist isn't going to tell you". Ed just gave me a copy on Sunday so I have not had a chance to read it yet. However, without even having the opportunity to do so, I can say that in Ed and Tom COS is blessed to have two of the most dedicated men of faith I know. It was Ed who introduced me to Parker Palmer, and Tom's previous periodic presentations on 'parenting' were second to none whether one was a parent or grandparent. These guys not only "talk the talk, they walk the walk"! Trust me; get their book ASAP. Then, you will be among those who later will be able to say "I knew them when..."
"WILL YOU STILL NEED US, WILL YOU STILL HEED US, WHEN WE'RE 154?" -- In keeping with the above discussion about CHANGE, were this 1950, this would be the $64 Question. In fact, in 1950 this was the name of a very popular quiz show hosted by Walter O'Keefe, and the winning contestant was ecstatic if he or she won $64, after beginning with $2!
The point is, CHANGE is upon us, big time, for the fifth or sixth time in the illustrious 150 year history of this parish. Given inflation and the fact that $64 isn't even considered to be petty cash these days, our 2018 $640,000 Question is how is COS going to respond to CHANGE this time?
Sue and I devoted most of our answers to Parish Profile Questionnaire to addressing that in this time of change we believe we parishioners are presented with a fantastic opportunity to develop a NEW VISION not only for COS but also for what it means to be a RELEVANT FAITH BASED INSTITUTION IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
In previous BEACONS, I have recommended that the easiest way to understand COS is to view it as a series of Concentric Circles. To prove the above assertion to you, I think this time I recommend that the best way to view COS is in a linear fashion -- FROM THE ALTAR TO THE HOLY LAND. If you do so, we think you will discover as we have that no matter where you are on your Spiritual Journey, few if any other parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles can offer what THE Church of Our Saviour can offer.
ARETHA FRANKLIN & SUE SMOCK: A LOT IN COMMON EXCEPT FOR ONE THING! -- Both women made it into their eighth decades; both are people of color, one black and one white; both are Christians, one a Baptist, the other an Episcopalian; both care for the 'least among us'; and both are advocates for social justice. However, there is one major difference which ALL OLDER PARISHIONERS ought to take note of. Sue Smock, even with modest assets, has a Living Trust and a Will; Aretha Franklin, the "most charted female artist in history", with 112 charted singles, 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R & B entries, and 20 number-one R & B singles, with $80 million in assets, DID NOT HAVE A LIVING TRUST OR WILL!!! Do not let this happen to you or your parents!
A GEORGE PATTON STORY -- Rob Lihani, the son-in-law married to Molly the therapist, is a true Renaissance Man. Among his many interests is a passion for the history of WWII and any and all stories and memorabilia related to it. Recently, he decided to begin manufacturing by hand in his attic a line of "man bags" from "re-purposed" World War II materials such as parachutes, army blankets, ponchos, tents, and such. Believe it or not, he is selling them for $350 each, and and they are being purchased by guys who use them to carry around their computers and other electronic stuff AND are just as crazy about WWII stuff as Rob is.
Sunday he showed us his newest creation, a bag honoring General George Patton which commemorated his invasion of Morocco in November, 1942. Patton, then a two star general, had his staff make a battle flag for him which acknowledged his command of the "Western Task Force" in Africa. The flag, about the size of a large framed painting, came ashore with him and was greeted with snickers from his men. Whoever had made the flag used the red bedding of an officer's bedroll, and fully displayed in crude white letters were two white stars and three letters: "W" "T" "F"!!! "WTF" meant the same thing then that it does today, and General Patton blew up when he found out how his flag was received. The flag never appeared again although one of them can be seen in the General Patton Museum in Fort Knox. If you would like to see Rob's tribute to our General, this bag and all of his others can be seen on Instagram @thesignaldepot.