The Beacon

This is the Lord's Table and ALL are welcome! Fr. Gary Bradley 2017

"COMMUNION IS NOT FOR THE PERFECT. COMMUNION IS FOR THE HUNGRY!" -- This statement is from Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, and it was the quote which Bishop John Taylor, the Seventh Bishop of Los Angeles, used to close his 45 minute address to our Annual Convention last Friday. Sue and I found his witnessing to be truly remarkable and inspirational as he recognized the realities of 2017 while  expressing enormous optimism about the future.

As THE Church of Our Saviour begins its transition from Fr. Gary Bradley's leadership, we URGE each and every parishioner to listen to Bishop Taylor's words. As The Rev. Ellen Wekall preached Sunday, Advent is here, and we wait; but this is no time to accept the status quo. Things continue to change, as they always do, but NOW is the time, the opportunity, to move forward in the spirit which Bishop Taylor so forcefully articulates. Everything is open to review and revision as The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Los Angeles, and THE Church of Our Saviour move forward contemplating the future.

Bishop Taylor's address can be found on facebook by going to the Diocese of Los Angeles' page OR to COS's page and scrolling down until you see a picture of Bishop John.

GAYLE MacGREGOR, A HUNGRY PERSON WHO FED EVERYONE AROUND HER -- I don't think I have ever experienced a Memorial Service which more beautifully captured the importance of Communion than I witnessed at the Service for Gayle MacGregor. After giving so much of herself to THE Church of Our Saviour over the years, she and her family let her friends and the greater community celebrate her Journey. She would not have been disappointed!

Linda and Mark Goluskin, Laurel Bullock, Ed Andersen, Canon Phil Smith and the Choir, the Handbell Choir, directed by Alice Rucker and consisting of Debbie Andersen, Sara Dooley, Kim Sirean, Kathy Macauley, Patti Teele -- and Fr. Gary captured again and again the essence of her Journey. It was a remarkable celebration and reaffirmed yet again to me how important Community is to our individual Journeys. Yes, it can be rewarding traveling alone, but the gifts, the differences, one can make in Community are so much more significant. This certainly was the case with Gayle's Journey as one statement after another testified to how much she meant to so many people -- AND vice versa!

Gayle's deep spirituality sustained her in her battle with cancer for 20 years, and this was clearly articulated by Fr. Gary in his Eulogy. He noted that six years ago Gayle was given 6 (six) months to live. Undaunted and unwilling to accept this diagnosis, she proceeded to enroll in Sewanee's Education For Ministry (EFM) Program. This is a four year commitment, and she successfully completed the Program last year. The power of her faith at work -- Unbelievable!!!

One other observation. Through thick and thin, Gayle continued to attend Sunday Services using a walker and later a wheelchair. As  a person now living in a community where the walker is the prevalent mode of assuring mobility, I can tell you that maneuverability is not a hallmark of this piece of equipment. Fr. Gary noted this too, and so he removed one row of pews in the sanctuary to accommodate Gayle and others similarly impaired. If for no other reason than this aisle, I will always remember Gayle. In fact, I recommend that we install a plaque there commemorating her time and contributions to this Communion. THE MacGREGOR AISLE! 

JUBILEE HOMES FED 120 HUNGRY PEOPLE -- RESIDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES -- ON DECEMBER 1 -- Cleaver Hall and 15 tables of eight were festively decorated for Santa's arrival last Saturday night as Deacon Bill Doulos and the Board of Jubilee Homes welcomed residents and their families to their Annual Christmas Party. As always, almost everything about the evening was donated, and a delicious turkey dinner was prepared by Marcus Mendoza, a former Transitional Housing resident. Deacon Bill raffled off a number of gifts, and Santa, who looked suspiciously like Mark Goluskin, entertained at least 20 children of the residents.

Aside from the joyful time everyone seemed to have, for Sue and me there were two incredible highlights. The first was Fr. Gary's last opportunity to bless a Jubilee Dinner. It was absolutely inspiring, but I can not possibly do it justice. I will say, though, that this is the first time that I have heard angels and reference to one's Higher Power so beautifully and meaningfully joined together, resulting in the charge to do unto others by giving of your self to others in sobriety. I wish you all had   heard him!

The other was the testimony of three Jubilee Homes alumni. Clifton, Britany and Marcus (the chef) spoke emotionally in expressing their gratitude for what Jubilee's Ministry has provided to each of them. I can best sum up our response to each of them by saying that we are so proud that the lives of these three people were saved in no small part by this Outreach Ministry of COS.

THE ALTAR GUILD ROOM: YOU COULD DO SURGERY IN THERE NOW -- After years (decades?) of running the parish from a dreary little room, the Altar Guild decided to upgrade its base camp to better reflect its important position at the top of THE Church of Our Saviour hierarchy. FYI, in my view of COS as a series of concentric circles, the Altar Guild is the CENTER. Without these ladies, there is NO church! Thankfully, they now are now functioning in a pristine, well lighted environment, thanks particularly to Ed Andersen's energy and three gallons of white paint which he applied to the ceiling. It takes a village.

By the way, 'thank yous' are also extended to John Ballance, our resident parish Handy Man. Whenever there is a project to be done, there is John. Most recently he built the risers which now enhance the Choir's ability to perform even better than before. Now, he has constructed a new Advent Wreath; and according to Fr. Gary he is working on a case in which we can display some of our old, fragile vestments. Apparently, it will be located in the rear of the sanctuary. Stand by for the formal unveiling, but in the meantime thank John for his continuing contributions.

THIS IS THE MONTH OF DEKILIAN -- You know Christmas is around the corner when TWO (2) of the major events on the COS calendar involve Gloria and Paul Kilian. Next Sunday, beginning at 9:01 in Grace Chapel, these two will introduce us once again to three Christmas Hymns and their backstories. They have become a cornerstone of the Advent Season at COS, and no one establishes the spirit of this Season better than they. This year they have entitled their presentation "Christmas Carols of a Self Emptying God". I have no idea what this means, so you all must make every effort to get to Grace Chapel at 9:01 and find out for yourselves.

As if this were not enough of a gift, later in the month, on Thursday, DEC. 21 @ 12:30, Gloria and Paul come back for an encore performance at the monthly SAGES Luncheon. As they have done in the past, they will be leading us in Christmas Carols, with Paul prominently featured on the trombone and Gloria on the piano. Guests will enjoy a baked ham and scalloped potatoes which will be provided by the Bev & Jerry Harris and Linda Goluskin, and everyone else is asked to bring a salad, vegetables, desserts and drinks. Consistent with the inclusivity of The Episcopal Church, there is no age limit; ALL are welcome, but a RSVP to Linda Goluskin is most appreciated. OR 626-999-7335.

"OPEN BETHLEHEM" -- Seventeen years ago the Diocese of Los Angeles entered into a Companion Relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem. This was initiated by Bishop Bruno, and it was the direct result of THE Church of Our Saviour's establishment of the Sister Parish Relationship with St. Paul's in the Galilee during Lent 2004. It was at that time that we made Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and one of the most spiritually fulfilling aspects of that trip was a day long visit to Bethlehem. At that time, the six mile trip from Jerusalem took about 30 minutes and included a brief and cursory stop a check point, more like a road block, just north of town.

Today, the birth place of Jesus Christ is surrounded by a 30 foot high wall which the Israelis claim is a security barrier. In reality, it has been constructed in such a way as to confiscate almost all of the city's surrounding agriculture land, and Bethlehem is now a modern day GHETTO! In fact, there are many young people in the city who have never been to Jerusalem because of the tight security and onerous procedures the Israels have put in place. Nothing captures the current state of affairs more accurately and satirically than a Christmas card created by the internationally famous graffiti artist Banksy. It shows the three wise men looking up at the 30 foot high wall and wondering how in the world they are going to be able to proceed to the manger. 

This condition is real. Were you to make Pilgrimage today, there is no assurance that you would be allowed into Occupied Bethlehem. And yet, for all of the hand wringing from many in the West concerned about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, hardly a word is spoken on behalf of the Christians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Up to the time of his illness, Bishop Bruno was one of the few voices calling what is happening 'apartheid', but ever since he has been silent. Unfortunately, so has everyone else in leadership within The Episcopal Church.

This is about to change, thanks in no small part to Fr. Fuad Dagher's recent visit to COS and the Diocese of Los Angeles. He was able to spend two hours with Bishop John Taylor, and they focused particularly on the re-establishment and upgrading the Companion Relationship which is now in its fourth three year term but basically dormant. Evidence of change comes with the announcement that the Bishop has charged the Program Group on World Partnership to revision what the relationship might look like. In addition, last Friday night after the Annual Convention had adjourned, Bishop Taylor and his wife Kathy stayed on to view a documentary entitled "Open Bethlehem". This is produced by Leila Sansour, a resident of Bethlehem and a friend of several people within the Diocese. Bishop Taylor spoke glowingly about her effort which essentially captures the history and life of the people of Bethlehem over the last hundred years. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a more robust and visible relationship with Jerusalem. In the meantime, for your consideration here is an updated version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem":


O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
A wall is laid where tourists stayed,
And tanks go rolling by.
And in thy dark streets shineth
No cheerful Christmas light;
The grief and fears of these sad years
Are met in thee tonight.
How silently, how silently
The world regards it all,
As now thy heart is torn apart
By Israel's ghetto wall.
They terrorize a people -
A war crime and a sin;
Their winding "fence" can make no sense;
Revenge can still get in.
O promised child of Bethlehem,
Cast down the iron cage,
The walls of hate that separate
And harden and enrage;
Bring justice and make equal;
Come down from far above;
And come to birth upon this earth,
As hope and peace and love.