THE BEACON: CELEBRATING WHO WE ARE IN OUR 150TH YEAR
By Sandy Smock
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"
A MONK'S VIEW OF THE RELEVANT MESSAGE WHICH WAS DELIVERED AT THE GATES OF NAIN -- Over the years I have come to relish hearing the Sermons delivered on Sundays. Almost without exception these establish my marching orders for the following week. To say that last Sunday's was no exception is an understatement; Br. Dennis Gibbs touched me deeply on several personal levels. In part, this is because the first part of what was essentially a two part Sermon impacted Sue and me immediately because of the reaction which was felt by a fellow pew mate right in front of us. And secondly, we know Nain; we have been there 5 times on Pilgrimage(See Below).
What was so telling was the focus Br. Dennis placed first on the people in the pews who have experienced what the widow in Nain was going through as a result of the loss of her only son AND only relative. His message was that he (Br. Dennis) "knows who you are, I see you, I have deep compassion for you, and I pray for you and your comfort." More importantly, so does Jesus AND so does this parish. In fact, THE Church of Our Saviour is living out the title of Br. Dennis' Sermon "Radical Compassion".
Read his words and see if you don't agree:
"Our hands are the hands of God in the world. Our hearts are the hands of God in the world. Our hearts beat with the compassion of God in the world. We should do our best to live as Jesus lived and to teach what he has taught us. The lesson has once again been set before us today. Blessed are those who hear the call of the prophet of God. Blessed are those who answer that call. Blessed are those who walk in the footsteps of Jesus."
EDUCATION FOR MINISTRY (EFM) -- "You're known by the company you keep." If there ever was a Ministry which can be characterized by the make up of its participants, it is the EFM group at COS. It was they who presented the Forum on Sunday, and what a wonderful cross section of parishioners they are. Here are names of those I was able to remember, with apologies to anyone I overlooked: Rev. Ada Wong-Nagata, Susan Salisbury, Kari Stewart, Ronnie Nagata, Juli Kennedy, Kathy Macauley, Basil Johnson, Fred Garside, Alan Kreditor, Phil Gold, Jeffrey Ma, Linda Goluskin and Mark Goluskin.
Susan and Kari made the presentation and highlighted the following: There are 7,000 members world wide who have completed the 4 year course. Each one year session consists of 36 meetings running about two hours each and requires another three to four hours of readings. The sessions cover the Old Testament, the New Testament, the History of World Christianity and Contemporary Theology. The testimony from those who have completed the Course is a strong endorsement of the Ministry; it obviously has been life changing for each participant, and they encourage all parishioners to consider taking a look at joining the EFM Ministry.
WHAT NAIN MEANS TO US -- One of several major reasons we have urged EVERYONE to make Pilgrimage to the Holy Land is because walking in the footsteps of Jesus brings Scripture ALIVE! And for us, no Gospel Reading has become more meaningful and RELEVANT in 2016 than Luke 7:11-17. Nain is not on any regular Pilgrimage itinerary, but it is included in our Guide Iyad Qumri's trips because the abandoned Sanctuary there is a perfect, symbolic example of what will happen if the remaining Palestinian Christians are forced to leave the Holy Land.
Nain is on the south side of the Jezreel Valley, a major ancient trade route, about 25 miles from the Sea of Galilee. Across the valley is Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration, and just to the north west is Nazareth. In other words, this was an active trade stop and farming community in Jesus' time. Today, it is an obscure side trip off the main east west highway, and the citizens are either Muslim or secular Palestinian Israeli citizens; BUT there still is that small Christian church on the outskirts of town. There it sits, a cobbled together house built up against its south wall. Trash is accumulating all around it, and goats and chickens roam everywhere. That said, the key to the church is cared for by the matriarch of the house and her children who look after the property as best they can.
We have a large picture of this sad situation which we would be happy to share. If you take the time to view it, REMEMBER; THIS IS WHAT THE HOLY SITES WILL LOOK LIKE IF WE LOOSE A CHRISTIAN PRESENCE IN THE HOLY LAND!!!
4 HEADS & 4 HEAD COVERINGS SPEAK VOLUMES: PEACE IS POSSIBLE -- Fr. Fuad Dagher, Rector of our Sister Parish in the Galilee, knows how to use facebook like no other person we know. (In fact, he now has 3,788 'friends'!) However, sometimes he posts pictures which either have poorly translated Arabic explanations or stand alone with only a few words. The latter was the case last week when he posted 4 pictures of head coverings clearly worn by clergy from different denominations. The explanation in English -- "This is my life. This is my life." We were wondering about the significance of his words and the pictures when the phone rang at 11:00 Wednesday night, and we were greeted by a great big "Hallo, it's Fr. Fuad!"
Here's his explanation. The coverings were on the heads of a rabbi, a Greek Orthodox priest, a Druze sheik and a Muslim Imam, each of whom had come together on a bus ride to visit the historic places in Safed in the northern Galilee. (Safed is one the four most holy Jewish sites, the others being Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias.) While sitting on board the bus filled with 30(!) Christian clergy, Muslim Imams, Druze sheiks and Jewish rabbis, Fr. Fuad was overcome with the significance of the gathering. Ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue is not only alive in the Holy Land but so is actual personal contact and the willingness to be seen working and worshiping together, and taking 'selfies'! What a contrast to almost everywhere else in the world, including the West San Gabriel Valley. It really IS a Holy Land!!!
MORE YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ST. PAUL'S, ITS PRIEST, ITS PARISHIONERS AND SHEFA 'AMR -- In his spare time Fr. Fuad has been overseeing the restoration of St. Paul's Sanctuary, inside and out. As with the Cultural Center Project, he is committed to bringing the church back to its original state while also updating the electrical system. All in, the total cost is going to be approximately 500,000 New Israeli Shekels ($130,000), 200,000 ($52,000) of which is being donated "in kind". We asked if the funding was coming from the Diocese, and it is not. Fr. Fuad says that he is reaching out to the many Friends of St. Paul's who have visited Shefa 'Amr over the years to assist as they can, and he has no doubts that the response will be robust.
Listening to his enthusiasm and knowing his optimistic approach to life, we asked how he can continue to be so upbeat, given the daily challenges which he faces as an Palestinian Christian Israeli. HIS WORDS TO LIVE BY: "Many in my community have been living in this environment since the Nakba (1948), and we have long since decided that to survive we must appreciate each day for the gifts it gives us while standing steadfastly in support of peace WITH justice in the Holy Land. Otherwise, life becomes unbearable." In the 12 years we have been involved with the people of St. Paul's, they have remained steadfast, in deed, and we are unaware of any parishioner leaving the Galilee and joining the large Palestinian disapora.
RONNIE & THE REV. ADA WONG-NAGATA'S GIFT TO US ALL -- On June 3 Ronnie and Rev. Ada were in northern California to attend the graduation of their son Jason Nagata from the Stanford / Lucile Packard Children's Hospital with a degree as Doctor of Pediatrics. Impressive and reward enough for his parents, I'm sure, but Dr. Jason embellished his accomplishment by being one of two recipients of the Excellence in Scholarship Award given for exceptional efforts in research. Congratulations to all of the Wong-Nagata Clan.
IMMANUEL'S GAIN OUR LOSS -- Timing is everything! Because of the way the rotation of visits to parishes by our Bishops worked out, Jacob Lee, Gabe Vazquez-Reyes and Dr. Ian Ross were confirmed Sunday not at COS but at our Sister Parish in El Monte by Bishop Jon Bruno. As disappointed as I might be about being able to celebrate these three significant events, I think it's great that these members of THE Church of Our Saviour could be confirmed in the presence of a congregation with whom we have very, very close ties. I don't think this kind of relationship exists in any other parishes in the Diocese. Congratulations, Jacob, Gabe and Dr. Ian.
THANK YOU, COS CHOIR, AND THANK YOU, CANON PHIL --Sunday was the last Service of 2015/2016 Year when the full Choir performed. To state the obvious, the music was spectacular, and during Announcements Phil thanked each and everyone of them personally. He also announced that at Fr. Gary's encouragement (insistence) he began a Sabbatical on June 1 and will be back on September 1. In reality we all know that a "Phil Sabbatical" will mean even more activities than he already is involved in. Have you seen his facebook page?! In any event, as usual COS is going to be a primary beneficiary of his "free" time since he is committed to composing a Hymn and a Congregational Mass in celebration of our 150 years.
THE REV. CANON CHARLES SAQUETY: A REPORT FROM THE FIELD -- For you newer parishioners Fr. Charles served at COS in 2006 and 2007 as Interim Rector. Appointed by Bishop Bruno, he was the right man at the right time and helped immensely in the transition. He made many friends while here, and he is much loved around the Diocese of Los Angeles. More recently, at age 82, Fr. Charles has faced what he terms as "two near death experiences", but he now is in full recovery and just as robust, insightful and funny as ever. Sue and I had the privilege to spend more than two hours with him at his home, and it was wonderful to listen to him share his memories and words of wisdom.
NO PARKING MEANS NO PARKING -- Interesting and somewhat ironic turn of events occurred Saturday on Campus. The Men's Guild was holding its regular monthly breakfast meeting in Allan Hall, and one of the topics of discussion was to be on "sidewalk CPR" presented by our resident Safety Consultant Tom Lenzo. However, before he could present, one of the attendees experienced some dizziness and collapsed, hitting his head. Discretion being the better part of valor. the fire department were called; but when they arrived, the parking circle was full of cars, temporarily preventing the first responders from moving their gurney into Allan Hall. The cars did not belong to parishioners but to guests using Cleaver Hall. Nevertheless, the Fire Captain was not happy and passed along his concerns to Tom. "NO PARKING" MEANS "NO PARKING". FYI, thankfully our "downed" parishioner is recovering well.
THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION UPDATE -- As has been noted in several previous Beacons, the structure of the Celebration will be a series of Events and Programs beginning with Our Saviour Sunday on September 11. To date, over a dozen parishioners have stepped forward to propose and develop special events, and more will be forthcoming. If you have any ideas or interests that you would like to see implemented, please contact Fr. Gary or Rev. Ada or anyone on the staff.