THE BEACON: CELEBRATING OUR PAST 150 YEARS...IGNITING THE FUTURE.
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"
EPIPHANIES, YOU & I -- I learned something this Season of Epiphany, call it an epiphany. First of all, CANON PHIL SMITH, in his Praying Towards Sunday write-up, made sure I understood how the Cambridge English Dictionary defined the experience: "1. a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something very important to you; 2. a powerful religious experience." Then, with this firmly in mind, FR. GARY BRADLEY made it very, very clear that while Epiphanies are personal and some times extremely important experiences,
"if indeed you have experienced the awesome voice of God in the wilderness, it weighs upon you -- with the weight of divinity itself -- it weighs upon you to SHARE the epiphany you have been privileged to encounter...
"To seek an understanding of God's calling in our lives with the companionship of others who've engaged in the same struggle is better, much better, than to go our lonely and often misguided way. We may never quite bridge the gap that keeps us from fully understanding each other. But we can SHARE THE JOURNEY."
The Bottom Line As I Hear It: COME TO CHURCH; stay around afterwards and share epiphanies; get involved in one of our many incredible Ministries. We need each other NOW more than ever in these trying times to re-enforce our individual Spiritual Journeys. I am reminded of a phrase from the 1950's: " Be there or be square!" See you next Sunday.
LET'S HEAR IT, AGAIN, FOR THE ALTAR GUILD -- A long, long time ago I came to realize that the HEART & SOUL of THE Church of Our Saviour was the ALTAR GUILD. In fact, if you have a copy of CONCENTRIC CIRCLES of BLESSINGS at THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR handy, you will note that the very first Ministry discussed is the ALTAR GUILD. Without these folks, most of whom are women, the Sanctuary would be nothing more than a building. It is they, 24/7 and each and every season, who bring it to life, and this Christmas was no exception. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF YOUR EFFORTS; YOU ARE THE GREATEST!!! By the way, if any of you, including La-Z-Boy bound men, are looking for a way to contribute to the life of the parish, the Altar Guild has a place for you.
EVE OF THE EPIPHANY SOLEMN CHORAL EVENSONG -- Thursday evening, January 5, Canon Phil Smith and the magnificent Our Saviour Choir & Guests presented another beautiful and moving program as part of their Music For A Season Series. As always, it was wonderful gift, but wouldn't it be terrific if more people supported the hard work Phil and the Choir put into performances like this? We are so blessed week in and week out to have the Music Program we have. Now, we all need to include Canon Phil in our prayers as he addresses another health challenge in what already has been a challenging Journey.
ANOTHER SAINT IN OUR MIDST!!! -- Sunday's FORUM featured CYNTHIA JUVINALL, yet another parishioner doing amazing volunteer work in the Community. Her passion is foster children, about which she is eminently qualified to speak. Her mission Sunday was to talk about Friends of Foster Children (www.fofcsgv.org) whose Mission Statement reads as follows: to enhance the quality of life of abused, abandoned and neglected children in the San Gabriel Valley
She has been involved for years with this organization, and currently her focus is on raising scholarship funds for 45 'termed out' young adults who have been released from the foster care system when they turned 18. Cynthia did a fantastic job describing the challenges facing foster children AND those who take in or adopt those children, as witnessed by the many questions which were asked following her presentation. As with so many groups within our society which have no leverage or voice except for people like Cynthia, public recognition of the issues is in short supply. So many causes, so few resources!!! THANK YOU, Cynthia, for bringing this one to our attention.
BOY, ARE WE BLESSED TO HAVE THE ROSS FAMILY AS PARISHIONERS! A SAINT IN THE MAKING? -- In probably what was a "FIRST" at THE Church of Our Saviour, a father and one of his many, many sons were the READERS Sunday, and one was magnificent!!! So much so that I really felt that I should applaud when he finished. What poise, what inflection, what courage NICOLAI ROSS possesses. Historically, I have played this mind game in which I predict how well a young person will do as he or she grows up, and I fantasize about buying a "piece of that action". I had a chance to make that offer to PATRICK ROSS after the Service. He turned me down without discussion, knowing full well he has a super star in the making. Oh, by the way, Nicolai is 8! (EIGHT!) (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8!) years old!!! I wasn't able to speak in public until I was in my 30's and had a glass of wine in my hand!
HOW COULD WE HAVE BEEN SO BLIND?!!! -- Sue and I graduated from high school in the mid '50's during a period characterized as the apathetic '50's, attended a college that had one person of color on campus, subsequently supported the Vietnam War, were indifferent to the Civil Rights Movement and mourned the dropping of Prince Lightfoot and the 'Indian' as our university's mascot.
Why is this relevant as we begin 2017? Well, over the weekend we viewed three movies being promoted for consideration to be nominated for an Oscar. Yet again in our Journey, we were appalled by how unaware and indifferent we were about what was going on the early years of our Journey together. The movies, which we believe are "must sees", were 'Fences', 'Hidden Figures' and 'Loving'. Each story, in its own way, is compelling and so RELEVANT in these polarizing times.
SPEAKING OF RELEVANT... -- On JANUARY 20 @ 7:00, Br. Dennis Gibbs, Sr. Greta Ronningen and Sr. MJ Johnston will be offering a viewing of 'The 13th'. I could describe what this highly acclaimed documentary is about, but I would rather have you google it and find out for yourself. However, here's a hint: The U.S. has 5% of the world's population and 25% of its incarcerated!
Beginning on Thursday Evening, FEBRUARY 2 from 6:30 to 8:15, they will be following up this documentary with a six week book reading of Michelle Alexander's 'The New Jim Crow'. For those of you who are concerned about what is happening in our world, both of the above offerings are ways to get involved in a very important issue.
In this regard, I know many people feel strongly that the Pulpit is NOT the place for current affairs to be addressed. I used to believe that, too; but as things are developing in this country, I have become convinced that the only place where dialogue and action might be developed is in the faith based communities. The question I have is this: "If not us, followers of Jesus Christ, who?!!!"
If you are interested in knowing just how challenging the polarization of this country has become, I recommend an Op-Ed column in last week's L.A. Times. Submitted by three psychology professors, it is entitled "I Don't Know What You Think, And I Don't Care". What is interesting to us is that we liberals think the other side is closed minded while we are not. The authors say this is not true at all. Both Right and Left, Red and Blue, are EQUALLY guilty of MOTIVATED IGNORANCE!!! Their conclusion: We ALL must open our ears and listen to each other, which is exactly what the Monks attempted to have us do at a recent gathering in Grace Chapel.
EPIPHANY IN THE GALILEE -- As wonderful as Epiphany was at COS, most Christian communities in the U.S. really don't know how to celebrate the Advent Season like the Christian Communities in the Holy Land do. I've reported previously on the ecumenical gatherings of the five denominations in Shefa 'Amr leading up to Western Christmas, but celebrations continued well past the 25th to Epiphany on January 7th. In fact, on Christmas Day every Christian priest was visited in his home by the leaders of the Druze and Muslim Communities, great testaments to the presence and value of Inter-Faith Dialogue and Mutual Respect. Then, because the priests hold each other in such high regard, the four 'western' denominations put all of their energies in to also celebrating the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 6 and 7th. In fact, as I have noted in the past, there is such a mutual respect among the priests in that city that they rotate the date when they celebrate Lent, following the Gregorian Calendar one year and Julian Calendar the next. At least in Shefa 'Amr, twenty miles from Christ's home town, religion is not the problem, it is the catalyst for "GOOD"!
VESTRY CALL -- An interesting thing about governance in The Episcopal Church is the ability of clergy and lay members to nominate themselves to positions within their parishes and the diocese. In fact, this is exactly how our new Bishop Coadjutor was elected; The Rev. Canon John Taylor nominated himself after the Selection Committee had eliminated him from the final list. In any event, you now have the opportunity to follow him and submit your name to the COS Nominating Committee working on putting together a list of five candidates for the Vestry. This is really important work, and the parish needs you.
SAGES -- What I have discovered in having the privilege to write the BEACON over the last three years is that this parish has an unbelievable number of extraordinary individuals doing extraordinary things within and outside of the church. Cynthia JuvInall is a great example and so is ED ANDERSEN, our resident Spiritual Outdoorsman. He will be the Guest Speaker at the Monthly SAGES Luncheon on Thursday, January 19, and ALL are invited. Contrary to some perceptions, we Seniors adhere strictly to an anti-age discrimination policy, both for legal reasons and because we think you younger people can learn things by being exposed to us. We know stuff!!!