THE BEACON: "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS GOING ON AROUND THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR?"
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"
NOW IS THE TIME FOR US ALL TO OPEN OUR EYES, OUR EARS AND OUR MINDS: PAUL KILIAN IS CONVENING THE PARISH PROFILE COMMITTEE -- Believe it or not, even though the Vestry has the final say on how this parish operates, we parishioners have many opportunities to participate and express our opinions. The parish is a democratic institution, sort of, so it is incumbent on each of us to be involved in the process of calling of our next priest. One vote does count as we are seeing in elections across the country, but one must exercise that right to vote to make a difference. Therefore, I urge all of you to read the Profile Committee 'job description' issued by the Vestry and then consider applying to become involved in the process. This is the first most important step leading to the eventual selection of a Search Committee. Given the importance of this project, I hope there are many applicants; we ALL need now more than ever to take ownership of this responsibility to set the stage for determining where THE Church of Our Saviour sees itself in the future of the West San Gabriel Valley. Your Indication of Interest should be sent to
TALK ABOUT TIMING -- We're facebook 'friends' of the The Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata who is now the Priest In Charge of the Church of Our Savior Manhattan. This is fortunate because sometimes we find out things about THE Church of Our Saviour San Gabriel from her postings that we might not otherwise be aware of.
The most recent example: On April 21 the Li Tim-Oi Center will be offering what sounds like a very interesting course to Mandarin speaking Episcopalians. "The course entitled 'Biblical History: History, Geography & Culture' will focus on outlining various aspects of the Bible's historical and cultural context in order to enable students to understand the Bible more deeply. There will be one day specifically on the Chinese Bible, including a history of the translation of the Bible into Chinese, the different versions of the Chinese Bible, the key issues and debates in the translation and the use the Bible in Chinese churches." The course will be taught by The Rev. Thomas Ni, one of the more imminently qualified people to teach such a course in this country. Perhaps as we develop our Parish Profile, we will want to include an extensive biography on Fr. Thomas. We have heard him discuss his experiences in China before immigrating, and he has a truly remarkable resume.
So, why is timing everything, you ask? Because, on the same day that I saw Rev. Ada's posting, I also came across this headline: "China Pulls Bible From Online Bookstores in Crackdown On Christianity". As Fr. Thomas would tell us, the Communist Party is committed to periodic, five year reviews of every aspect of life; and religion is no exception This one is titled "Principles for Promoting the Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years (2018-2022)?" This was announced two days before Bibles began disappearing from websites. According to one source, the motivation behind this action probably is best summarized as follows: "The Communist Party has a long way to go to 'Sinicize' religion which means preventing anyone from 'taking advantage of religion to harm national security' and 'endangering national unity". Just one insight into the depth and breadth of this paranoia is that "regulations also mandate that no one under 18 years of age is allowed to enter a church building as part of an effort to separate youth from Christian education and practice". No wonder so many Mandarin speaking Chinese arrive in the States with no knowledge of Christianity, let alone Anglicanism. Obviously, this presents enormous challenges as Fr. Thomas works to introduce this immigrant community to The Episcopal Church.
GIVEN THIS CHALLENGE -- Stewardship Chair Vera Hoalim and Fr. Thomas Ni are to be thanked and applauded for the interest they were able to generate from the Mandarin and Cantonese Congregations for the 2018 Stewardship Drive. As reported, 31 pledges were received from this constituency in the amount of $58,670, a 31% increase over the previous year. Thank you, Fr. Thomas, for working so diligently to educate the Mandarin Congregation in particular, given the cultural traditions and challenges you face.
GOD BLESS EMIGRANTS! -- Contrary to the view of far too many people in this country in 2018, we believe that emigrants continue to contribute in increasing numbers to what makes Southern California so great. Two cases close to my heart:
Example 1: The Rev. Canon Ada Wong-Nagata came to the the States to serve as a nurse. After over three decades of serving at a high level of professionalism, she decided to enter seminary and become a priest in The Episcopal Church. This in and of itself would warrant a "GOD Bless Emigrants", but it gets much, much better because Ada and Ronnie Nagata have a son. His name is Jason, and he is an Adolescent Medical Fellow at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco. His other credentials are equally amazing, and his most recent recognition was to be asked to be a speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine. The Society's motto speaks for itself -- "Global Adolescent Health Equity". Just in case someone is missing my point, here it is: Without Ada, there would be no Jason doing outstanding medical research in adolescent healthcare in San Francisco.
Example 2: The day Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy and criticized vast sectors of our emigrant population, I was spending three hours at Cedars Sinai Hospital listening to the options I had, given my heart condition. The Chief Surgeon was from India, his two associate surgeons were an orthodox Jew and a doctor from China, the X-
Ray operator was from Kosovo, the technician who explained the instrument options was from South Korea and my Appointment Facilitator was from Senegal. I was fabulously well cared for by a veritable united nations of medical professionals. Obviously, I did not and do not share our president's view of emigrants!
BR. DENNIS GIBBS: "OUR TIME HAS COME TO SHOW THE WORLD A RELENTLESS LOVE THAT KNOWS NO BOUNDS!" -- As many of you may know, The San Marino Tribune now has a full page which it calls 'Tribune Worship'. Until Fr. Gary retired, he would contribute a column every third week. Since January 14, Br. Dennis Gibbs has been our contributor, and his March Offering entitled "Time For Change" reminds me of the prophetic voices of the Episcopal priests of the 1960' and 1970's. Here are just a few of the statements from his column which resonated with us:
"The voices of the oppressed are literally crying out from the streets and they will not be silenced...
"Where do you think Jesus would be today? I am quite sure he would be in the streets with those protesting and standing for the most marginalized and vulnerable among us...he would most likely be right up front with Emma Gonzalez and the other prophets of our own time that are calling for change...
"If we as Christians are to have integrity, authenticity and authority, we must be able to bring the good news and the hope of resurrection to the world in ways that are vital and relevant today...
"Otherwise, we bear witness to a movement (Christianity) that is dying, not rising."
COS is blessed to have Br. Dennis Gibbs AND Sr. Greta Ronningen in our midst. Over and above their 'day jobs' as Chaplains in the L.A. County Jails, they also greatly enhance our collective Spiritual Journey. The most recent example of this is the Taize Service which they are responsible for organizing on the first Friday of each month and which attracts many visitors from the greater community.
WORDS TO LIVE BY?: PROBABLY NOT FOR ME -- As I approach my 81st year, Sue and I spend a lot of time discussing what to do with the rest of our Journey together. To this end, I find myself reading all sorts of articles describing how to find purpose in life. From the web site 'next avenue' I found the following interesting quote from Hunter S. Thompson who wrote "Hells Angels" among other things. I find it to be a fabulous statement, but I don't think my 'gifts' would allow me to change my life style that dramatically at this point. "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'"
THE TRAGEDY OF GAZA -- So far the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church has been back from his Holy Week visit to Jerusalem for over two weeks. Pope Francis and many other leaders from around the world have condemned the violent reaction of the Israeli government when, on Good Friday / Passover, it stationed 100 snipers along a dirt berm to repel 30,000 Gazans participating in The Great March of Return. That day 17 Palestinians were shot and killed and over 1,400 injured. A week later another 9 were killed and 293 wounded. So far, no statement has been issued, one way or the other, regarding anything that has and is happening in the Holy Land by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry or his office. One wonders why he even made the trip in the first place!!! Maybe it was just a 'bucket list' thing.
Perhaps there is some hope down the road. Bishop John Taylor left on Monday on a ten day fact finding trip to the Holy Land with a dozen bishops, pastors and priests. Apparently, he will be visiting the entire spectrum of leaders across Israel and the West Bank. Given this exposure, we can only pray that he will come home and "tell it like it is!" as a Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Had we known that he was going, we would have sent him a copy of Br. Gibbs' column!
"NETWORK" WAS RELEASED IN 1976: IT WAS CLAIRVOYANT, RELEVANT, DISTRESSING THEN. IT STILL IS!!! -- KCET's Friday night movie was "Network", a movie I had not seen in years. All I can say is that anyone who is as confused and tense as we are about what is going on in this country in 2018 ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO VIEW THIS MOVIE!!! In particular, we urge you to listen to how Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) pitches Economic Determinism's New World Order to Howard Beale near the end of the movie. Highlights are as follows:
"There are no nations. There are no peoples...There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars...
"It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet...
"There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today...
"We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business."
Arthur Jensen makes a great contemporary case for over turning Citizens United!!!
FATHER NO. 1 -- "My son lives paycheck to paycheck."
FATHER NO. 2 -- "Maybe he should get an education."
FATHER NO. 1 -- "He's a teacher."