The Beacon


"This is the Lord's Table, it's closer than ever and ALL are Welcome"

IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS: FROM SAINTS & SOULS TO LIVING SAINTS -- In less than 24 hours, we experienced yet again why we are so proud to proclaim ourselves to be Christians, to be Episcopalians, to be parishioners of THE Church of Our Saviour. Given what we and you all have had to endure over the last 18 months as we are asked to determine if this "democracy" can survive, the timing could not have come at a more important point in our Journey, to have been more uplifting.

I gave a lot of thought on Sunday afternoon and evening about how best to describe what we experieneced, how we were impacted, particularly because the emotions elicited by John Rutter's 'Requiem' were so overwhelming. However, so was Fr. Gary Bradley's Sermon and everything about Saturday night was incredible. Therefore, I have decided to try to chronicle how my heart remembered the weekend from 6:00pm Saturday to 11:45 Sunday morning, beginning with the SAINTS and SOULS and then moving to our CONTEMPORARY SAINTS. Hopefully, you will choose to stay with me the whole way; it's worth the trip, I think.

CANON PHIL SMITH + REBECCA RASMUSSEN + OUR SAVIOUR CHOIR + INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE + ORGAN = ONE MAGNIFICENT ALL SAINTS & ALL SOULS SUNDAY SERVICE --Thank you, Canon Phil and Fr. Gary, for your decision and vision to incorporate the monthly Music For A Season Performance within the context of The Solemn Holy Eucharist of the All Saints' Sunday Service. John Rutter's 'Requiem', which Canon Phil described as a "liturgy in loving memory of all who have died this past year", lifted our hearts and reminded us not only of the Souls who died this past year but also all of our friends and family who have preceded them. Just in case we and 'they' were not paying attention, Rebecca Rasmussen made sure the message of the Requiem was heard loud and clear. WHAT a morning!

Also not to be overlooked are the contributions Albert Cohen and the family of Faith Sand, a longtime member of this parish, AND the FRIENDS OF MUSIC made which has resulted in yet another wonderful Concert Series 2016 - 2017. By the way, there are many more Performances ahead; become a supporter as an Archangel, Benefactor, Angel, Patron, Donor, Associate or Friend.      

DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAINTS & SOULS? I DID NOT -- I read Canon Phil's informative write-up in the COS E-News: "All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) is a celebration of the SAINTS in GLORY, and in the liturgical calendar, All Soul's Day (Nov. 2) is a commemoration of the dead, those who have passed on into the greater glory." OK, but when (or how) does a Soul become a Saint? So, I went googling, and I didn't really clarify much:

    "All Soul's Day we're talking about all souls and asking God's mercy for them."

    "On All Saints' Day there's a call to live as saints, to remind us how we're supposed to live."

Whatever! The music transcended everything, and we came away remembering Souls and Saints who have impacted our Journey AND considering how to ratchet up our "walk with Christ".       

SPEAKING OF THAT 'WALK', FR. GARY ASKED THIS QUESTION IN HIS SERMON: "WHY DO YOU BEAR THE NAME CHRISTIAN -- CHRIST PERSON -- IF YOU DO NOT WALK WITH CHRIST, IF YOU DO NOT WALK WITH THE POOR, IF YOU WILL NOT STAND UP FOR THE DOWNTRODEN?" -- As anyone who has read any BEACON knows, I believe our Outreach Ministries qualify us collectively to be called Christ Persons and COS a Christ Parish. That said, we witnessed Saturday night the most inspiring, the most RELEVANT, example of what "walking the Christian Walk" means!!!

PRISM Restorative Justice MINISTRY OF THE DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES CELEBRATED 10 YEARS OF MINISTERING TO THE INCARCERATED: "I was in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:36 -- An estimated 180 people gathered on Campus for a fund raiser to help sustain this remarkable ministry. Many were from COS, but the vast majority came from around SoCal, including a contingent from St. Matthew's Pacific Palisades which hosts an Annual Picnic for the families of prisoners; a table from All Saints' Pasadena, including their new Rector Fr. Mike Kinman; most impressively a whole table of Deputy Sheriffs (on Saturday night!) led by Sgt. Juan Martinez who serve as liaisons to PRISM in the jails; and omnipresent, ubiquitous parishioner Carrie Voris who was thanked for producing 1) PRISM's new brochure entitled Monks Behind Bars - Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, Walking Humbly; 2) the cover of the Program and 3) their new logo -- a Heart with the words LIVE LOVE in the center. 

By any definition of what it means to lead a Christian Life, Deacon Dennis Gibbs, Sister Greta Ronningen and Sister MJ Johnston are the most qualified of any Christ Persons we have ever known. What they are accomplishing in the jails in Los Angeles County is unbelievable:

"We cannot overstate the importance of having the freedom to bring our all-inclusive, non-judgmental, no strings attached love and how transformative that spirit has been for our incarcerated friends. Our mantra is -- OUR ONLY DESIRE IS THAT ALL WOULD KNOW LOVE."

Inevitably, we now are seeing the integration of PRISM and the Community of Divine Love (CDL) as they have adopted a new reference as Monks Behind Bars. However, they are not alone as the Ministry now consists of some 40 chaplains and volunteers in the four county jail facilities. Although the Monks will say that all are essential to their work and more are welcome and needed, they also have held up one volunteer in particular -- Sharon Crandall. I have been aware of her contributions to this Ministry because Sue is a FRIEND of hers on facebook, and Sharon sometimes posts some of her most moving experiences there. Over and above that, I know of her great commitment to the Spiritual Direction Ministry of the Monks so I am not surprised at all by the recognition given to her. She is another one of those COS parishioners who continues to make a substantial contribution to the Spiritual Journey of this place and to the greater Community.

FR. GREG BOYLE, THE SOCIETY OF JESUS (The Jesuits): A GIANT OF A SAINT AMONG SAINTS -- For those of you who do not know who Fr. Boyle is, it is enough to know the following: He is the Founder and Executive Director of HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES, the largest intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the WORLD!!!

In the minds of many in Southern California and beyond, he is a SAINT, the epitome of the Christ Person who walks with Christ, who walks with the poor, who stands up for the downtrodden!!! So, to borrow from an E.F. Hutton ad of yesteryears, "when Fr. Boyle talks, people listen". And talk he did, for at least 45 mesmerizing minutes. 

One of our granddaughters was with us and has read Fr. Boyle's book Tattoos On The Heart: The Power Of Boundless Compassion. She said that people who have not heard him speak MUST read this book. She also told her mother that the minute he began to speak, she felt she was in the presence of a "STAR"!

Fr. Boyle's Bottom Line was delivered at the very beginning of his talk: In this time of turmoil, confusion, racism, economic separation, PRISM Restorative Justice Ministry HAS RETURNED TO ONE OF THE   CORNERSTONES OF THE "ORIGINAL PROGRAM" -- I was in prison and you visited me!

"The measure of our health as a community will always be our ability to stand in awe of what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment about how they carry it."

ANOTHER "MUST READ" BOOK FOR YOU AFTER YOU HAVE READ "TATTOOS ON THE HEART" -- Sister Greta Ronningen has just published her first book "FREE ON THE INSIDE: FINDING GOD BEHIND BARS". This book is actually written for the 18,000 people incarcerated in the jails in L.A., and she hopes we all would consider donating $100 which would provide 10 copies for the inmates. I can report that demand is good because Sr. Greta says a second printing already is contemplated.

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION -- Do you really, truly appreciate what a magnificent Campus we have? Saturday night the volunteers of PRISM showed it off yet again in all of its splendor. Lights were strung over the Telleen Family Courtyard, and people were gathered at tables all around the courtyard. Allan Hall was set up to show case the world renowned art work of John August Swanson, and Cleaver Hall never looked better. As noted, tables seating a full house of 180 guests were simply decorated, and the lighting of the Hall's beautiful wooden interior walls and ceiling provided a comfortable, warm feeling. You all should be very proud of how our Campus welcomed our visitors.

SPEAKING OF VISITORS, GUESS WHO SPENT TWO NIGHTS EARLY LAST WEEK WITH THE MONKS AT THE COMMUNITY OF DIVINE LOVE ON WEST ROSES ROAD? -- Sometimes when I'm sitting in the Courtyard after church, I hear things. Sunday was no exception as I had several opportunities to talk to Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta as they passed back and forth handing out large helpings of cheesecake. During one passing Sr. Greta mentioned that it had been quite a week for the Monks. In addition to their Fund Raiser, they had a very successful Taize Service Friday focused on Peace and Justice, AND The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of New Hampshire, was their house guest Monday and Tuesday.

"Bishop Gene Robinson!", I exclaimed, "That's a big deal!" I knew he had preached at All Saints Pasadena last week. but I was curious how the Monks had made contact with him. Sr. Greta said Br. Dennis just contacted him and invited him to join them on Chaplaincy calls to the jails. This he did, including spending considerable time with the large population of gay inmates. Both Br. Dennis and Sr. Greta characterized the meetings as being very emotional and much appreciated by everyone involved. Congratulations, you Monks. PRISM'S reputation continues to grow outside of SoCal.

BETTY DUKER: SHE DOESN'T 'DO' WINDOWS BUT SHE SURE KNOWS THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS AT COS -- One of the wonderful things about having a sanctuary which dates back to the late 1860's is that we have been the beneficiaries of gifts of stained glass windows over the generations. A second wonderful thing is that we have parishioner Betty Duker who has taken an interest in the history of these windows, and she volunteered to impart a bit of this knowledge to us at this week's Sunday Forum. It was a fascinating hour but not nearly time for her to cover everything she knows. However, there are several booklets in the church which contain extensive information (DO NOT REMOVE), and apparently some additional copies are going to be printed soon. One thing Betty was able to establish in her limited time is that our windows are best understood by viewing them as five separate groups -- Patton, Lancet, 'Tiffany', Other & Children. To better understand these designations, you are going to have to get a copy of the booklet, OR you can wait until January when Patti Beith begins conducting tours. Either way, it is well worth the effort to learn about this important part of COS's 150 years of worshiping in the same place. Thank you, Betty.

THAT WHICH APPLIES TO THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX NATION ALSO APPLIES TO THE PALESTINIANS OF GAZA, THE WEST BANK & BETHLEHEM -- The Rev. John Floberg has three Episcopal congregations in the Standing Rock area and has been the catalyst in North Dakota in issuing the call to faith based leaders from across the country to gather in support of the Native Americans fighting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Yes, water is an issue, but the primary one centers on the abrogation of treaties between the indigenous Lakota Sioux and the U.S. government which were originally negotiated beginning in 1851. However, with each ensuing discovery of gold or the need for fertile land or water or..., the U.S. broke the existing Treaty and forced the negotiation another one, thereby reducing the sphere of interest of the Sioux to a miniscule portion of what was first negotiated in 1851.

This was all justified under a series of 14th Papal Bull pronouncements which came to be known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Thus, in the name of Christianity explorers primarily from Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, France and England were "authorized" to colonize the lands of indigenous peoples. Moreover, if these locals chose not to convert, the Europeans were "authorized" to incarcerate, deport or kill them.

In the newly created United States we claimed this as our Manifest Destiny, From Sea To Shining Sea. At its worst, this was translated as "The only good Indian was a dead Indian". In any event, as an act of protest of the Doctrine of Discovery, the over 500 faith based leaders last week gathered at Standing Rock burned a copy of the Doctrine, forever renouncing the right of one people or one religion to claim dominance over another.

Unfortunately, for those of us who see the brutal actions embodied in the Doctrine of Discovery still at work in 2016 in the Holy Land, the inability and unwillingness of The Episcopal Church to connect the dots and apply the same standards being supported in North Dakota to the State of Israel is a DISGRACE!!!!!!! 





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