The Beacon

THE BEACON: "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works." Matthew 5:16

"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!" Fr. Gary 2017

THE GOSPEL: MY TAKE AWAY FROM MATTHEW 5:39: Jesus Said If Anyone Strikes You On The Right Cheek, Turn The Other Also. He Did NOT Say 'Don't Speak To Each Other About Your Differences'! -- Firmly grasping the obvious, I want to tell you that this is the most unsettling time I have ever experienced. The 'winners' and the 'losers' have never been farther apart, and polarization grows daily. Just this week at COS I had a conversation with fellow parishioners about the level of incarceration in the U.S., a country which has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prisoners. Moreover, a substantial percentage of that 25% is represented by people of color. That conversation was not constructive. Then, today at the Forum Robin Kassabian was assigned the challenge of explaining the Diocese of Los Angeles' adoption at the Annual Convention last December of the Resolution regarding Becoming a Sanctuary Diocese. Although the Q & A session was civil, it was clear that there is an enormous difference of opinion among those in attendance. 

Here's the thing. These two topics and many others are dividing not only this parish but the entire community, BUT there is no place for us to come together and discuss our differences. Robin suggested that we all might want to meet at some future date, but I did not detect any surge of interest. Personally, I find this non-response disappointing and depressing; mostly because I believe that if we are going to find our way out of this collective funk, the leadership will have to come from the faith based communities. I see no leadership anywhere else in my world!

By the way, for those of you who believe that this is not the time to become pro-active, that time is on our side, I urge you to google and read "Letter From A Birmingham Jail".          

'THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE' & YOU -- Every Sunday in unison we speak the first names of those on the Short-Term Prayer List who have asked the congregation to remember them. Well and good, but Sue and Deacon Bill Doulos and I discovered Saturday night that prayers alone are not the only response which we might want to consider. This was brought home to us by a visit to Gayle MacGregor who is currently in a rehab facility while she regains use of her leg which she recently broke. We ended up spending over an hour with her but not in her room because it was way too small for the three of us and her two room mates.

What deeply moved us was that during the entire visit Gayle NEVER complained, not about her rehab and not about her cancer treatments. Yes, she did have plenty to say about the complicated health care system we all will have to deal with at some time going forward, BUT what really resonated was her appreciation and love for her Church Community. Over and over again she talked about how important the cards, letters, e-mails, telephone calls and visits mean to her.

The Bottom Line: Next Sunday take a look at the list of people requesting your prayers; and if you know one of them, think about how you might make them aware that you are thinking of them. Gayle MacGregor will tell you that it's the most therapeutic thing you can do for your friend. I would add that this is one of the many reasons belonging to COS is such a gift to each of our Spiritual Journeys. "It takes a village."  

SAGES EPITOMIZES THE CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR -- EPITOMIZE = TO EXEMPLIFY, MANIFEST, TYPIFY, EMBODY, ILLUSTRATE, PERSONIFY. If you have read the The BEACON over the last three years I have been privileged to write it, you will know that one of my purposes in life is to convince everyone, including SAGES eligible parishioners, that we are invaluable members not only of this parish but of the community where many continue to contribute to the greater good. However, last Thursday I really felt an unusual surge of pride and joy at the conclusion of the Monthly SAGES Luncheon & Meeting.

WHY? Actually, over the years every Meeting has been very special and well received, but this one seemed to highlight ALL of the reasons this Ministry is so successful. For starters, five parishioners -- Lovey Sherman, Anne Peplow, Harriette Nagata, Connie Bucey and Henrietta Ma -- stepped forward to provide an incredible lunch of hearty soup, salads and bread. They also decorated the tables and served as their own clean up committee. One of the enduring memories I have is Harriette washing the huge pot which they used to prepare one of the best soups I have ever tasted. At least, I think it was she because all I could see were the legs and torso of a lady with the entire top half of her body deep into the pot scrubbing. Also to be recognizedare Bill Peplow and David Coleman who helped with set ups and bussing.

As always, a number of others contributed to the feast, including Linda Goluskin (cookies) and Bev Harris (German Chocolate Cake). Also reflecting the spirit of this group, Kathy Macauley e-mailed her apology for missing the Meeting so she would be unable to assist in clean-up. Also regretting being missing in action was Diane Rivera, SAGES' Resident Chef, who had a conflicting appointment.

For the third time, the contact for the Speaker was the ever creative thinking Reid Allen. This time, in response to Sue asking for ideas, he came up with Rachel Lofthouse, a young lady who is a second generation member of the Lofthouse Clan which owns Phoenix Decorating Company. Reid has known the Lofthouses for years because, as a long time senior officer of the Pasadena Kiwanis Club, he has worked with the family on the Kiwanis Floats for the Rose Parade. This last year his contact was Rachel who was assigned to 'manage' the design and construction of this float. This was a first for her, and Reid was very impressed with her professionalism so he put her and Sue in touch with each other. Professional she was indeed in the negotiations, and she did not disappoint with her presentation, only the second she had ever done. That said, she ended up being aided by her mother Lyn Lofthouse, COO/Floral Director, who with her husband Chris has owned and run Phoenix over the last 30 years. Between the two of them, their story was fascinating. Who knew that designing and building floats could be so interesting and able to sustain a family and a full time staff of approximately 15 people. In fact, their business is so successful that they build 20 to 25 of the Rose Parade floats each year and currently are consolidating their two Pasadena facilities into one in Irwindale. There are lots a ways to make a living in the new "niche economy"!

In addition to all of the above, SAGES is completely self funding!!!

THE BOTTOM LINE: This was such a warm gathering of people who really enjoy the monthly opportunity to get together in community to chat and to hear what is always an entertaining presentation. AND, the number of people who step forward to help in every way imaginable speaks for itself. I repeat -- "It takes a village!"         

THE OLIVE TREE --   Sue and I had reason to spend some time recently sitting at the Contemplation Circle located at the south end of Cleaver Hall. In the center is an Olive Tree which a plaque embedded in one of the stones explains was a gift from St. Paul's Episcopal Church, our Sister Parish in the Galilee. It reminded us that unbelievably it has been 13 years since the COS 2004 Lenten Program was "Journey To Jerusalem: Then & Now"! Conceived by The Rev. Denis O'Pray, Catherine Gregg (ordained in August of that year) and Choir Director Linda Mays, it was a huge success, anchored by Sermons focused on Jesus' time in and around Jerusalem, a Pilgrimage by Fr. Denis to the Galilee before Lent, a walking of the Stations of the Cross in the Cemetary, a Pilgrimage of six parishioners after Easter AND the establishment of the Sister Parish Relationship.

In hindsight, what is remarkable to us is what this COS Lenten Program and the Sister Parish Relationship triggered over the years. Consider the following:

  • Sister Parish Relationship established between St. Paul's in the Galilee and COS Lent 2004
  • The Rev. Fuad Dagher & Family and Iyad Qumri (our Palestinian Episcopalian guide) & Family attend Catherine Gregg's ordination and meet Bishop Bruno for the first time at the Rectory in August 2004
  • Bishop Bruno introduces Resolution at 2004 Annual Convention to enter into 3 year Companion Relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem (7/1/17 will mark the beginning of the fifth 3 year term, unprecedented in The Episcopal Church)
  • Bishop Bruno establishes the Bishop's Commission on the Middle East (BCME) (2004) 
  • COS, the Diocese of Los Angeles & Diocese of Jerusalem purchased property adjacent to St. Paul's for establishment of the Episcopal Cultural Center of Shefa 'Amr (2005)
  • October 2005 we are honored to be asked to be God Parents of the Dagher's daughter Reggina
  • Pilgrimages began from the Diocese which eventually totaled over 750 people, including 85 clergy members, all of the staff at the Cathedral Center and over 50 teenagers who traveled on Youth Pilgrimages
  • Bishop Bruno provided substantial financial support to several projects in the Diocese of Jerusalem in addition to St. Paul's
  • In 2007 Bishop Bruno was invited not only to place the mitre on Bishop Dawani's head but also to preach at his Installation
  • Bishop Bruno named St. George's Cathedral Canon of Mount Gerizim, the site overlooking Nablus which the Samaritans believe is the actual Temple Mount
  • Bishop Coadutor Elect John Taylor has led his parish of St. John Chrysostom to the Holy Land on four different occasions, most recently a month ago

I believe that without COS's 2004 Lenten Program none of the above ever would have happened. Up to that point only a few people in the Diocese of Los Angeles knew that there were even indigenous Christians in the Holy Land. Based on visiting many parishes around the Diocese since 2004, we know this to be true.  

FASCINATING DATES, AT LEAST TO US -- Hopefully you all know that THE Church of Our Saviour was established in 1867. Here are some other events impacting the Holy Land which are very important to us, and the dates of the years in which they occurred are sort of fascinating:

  • August 1897 First Zionist Conference (120 Years Ago)       
  • November 1917 Balfour Declaration (100 Years Ago)
  • November 1947 U.N. Participation Plan (70 Years)
  • June 1967 Six Day War (50 Years)
  • December 1987 First Intifada (30 Years)
  • December 2007 Fatah / Hamas Civil War (10 Years)
  • June 7, 2017 JWS, Jr. Birthday (80 Years)

That's a lot of "7s" and it's 2017. Stand by!!!

CONTRARY TO WHAT YOU MAY HAVE READ, PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS CONTINUE STEADFASTLY TO REPRESENT US IN THE HOLY LAND -- On Tuesday, February 21, Archbishop Suheil Dawani and the priests of the Galilee re-dedicated a long closed Anglican Church in Acre, Israel. Believe it or not, the name of this parish is ST. SAVIOUR'S CHURCH!!!

"THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!": OUR 'NEW' BISHOP SPEAKS ABOUT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS -- Bishop Coadjutor Elect John Taylor is a big believer in using social media, and he posts many things on facebook. Friday after President Trump's first press conference, he contributed the following:

"My family members Jean Sharley Taylor Lescoe, Harvey Taylor and Louis Cook devoted their lives to the newspaper business. Like the preponderance of their successors, they were the enemies not of the American people but of corruption, injustice, those who abused their power, and (in the case of my music critic father, Harvey) mediocrity. The president probably wouldn't have liked them much, either. Using the bully pulpit to turn his supporters against editors, reporters, producers, photographers, and camera operators -- at rallies and in Tweets -- could endanger innocent people. I pray that he and those around him will find means other than the language and the tactics of despotism to accomplish the work they feel he was elected to do."

I remind you that Canon Taylor was President Nixon's post-Chief of Staff (1984-1990) and later Executive Director of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Museum..

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