The Beacon

"IF NOT US, WHO?" The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray Sept. 2017

OUTREACH FORUM -- Just in case you have not fully appreciated it, Joanna Cory and Gerry Fagoaga and David Coleman did a great job of reminding us yet again what an incredible array of Outreach Ministries THE Church of Our Saviour maintains and offers to all of us. On display on the beautiful Telleen Family Courtyard on Sunday were Our Saviour Center (Cleaver Clinic, Dorris Dann Youth Center, Food Bank & Soccer For Success), the Li Tim-Oi Center, Transitional Housing, the Shawl Knitting Ministry, PRISM Restorative Justice and Karen Streeter's and Mike Watkins' Mental Health Ministry. Also, you should not forget A Child's Garden School and our Sister Parish Relationship with St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Holy Land. I pay attention to this stuff, and I am pretty sure there in no other parish in the Diocese of Los Angeles which continues to offer and maintain so many Outreach Ministries. This makes me proud; I hope it does you, too.

SAGES LUNCHEON -- Aside from feeding 25 of my closest friends and me extremely well on the third Thursday of September, Linda Goluskin and Bev & Jerry Harris, assisted by David Coleman on coffee, came up with a fabulously informative program. The featured speaker was our resident renaissance woman Sr. Greta Ronningen who introduced me to another dimension of parish life which the Monks of the Community of Divine Love bring to us about which I had known nothing. Little did I know how much Gentle Yoga can contribute to our Spiritual Journey. In fact, Sue and I discussed this at length after her presentation and have concluded that just as we view the wonderful music of Canon Phil Smith integral to what makes church so rewarding, we have got consider adding Yoga to the mix. 

I would love to go on and on about what I experienced listening to Sr. Greta, but the fact of the matter is that there is no way I can capture just how convincing and mesmerizing a speaker and advocate she is. What I can do is urge you to ask her to speak again; I believe her message is one that every parishioner ought to hear. Better still, commit to attending Gentle Yoga with Sr. Greta at COS every Wednesday between 10:00 and 11:00. In this class we will stretch and strengthen our bodies and quiet our busy minds. Students who practice yoga will find increased mobility and improved health. The breathing practices and guided meditations are rejuvenating and create a sense of inner peace. The class is appropriate for anyone of any physical ability or limitation. The class can be done entirely in a chair. A donation of $5 for COS members and $10 for non-members is appreciated. Better health and affordability! What have we got to lose?!      

"IF NOT US, WHO?": AN EXAMPLE -- Below is a commentary written by The Rev. Sari Ateek, Rector of St. John's Church in Maryland. Aside from being one of the priests COS sponsored for Ordination, what is important to us is that Sari's position on non-violent action is in his genes, and he follows a line of recognizable advocates anchored in Liberation Theology. First, there was Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador in the late 1970's. Subsequently, Archbishop Desmond Tutu became famous for his non-violent opposition to Apartheid by supporting Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions. In the 1990's Sari's father The Rev. Canon Naim Ateek founded Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in East Jerusalem to advocate non-violently for the rights of ALL Palestinians.

Here are Sari's comments:  

"Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist by evil means. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also". (Matthew 5:38-39)

Two weeks ago, I preached on the Jesus teaching of non-violent resistance. As followers of Christ , we are called to actively resist violence in all its forms, physical. emotional. or social, but to do it in a way that does not perpetuate the cycle of violence. Typically, when we refer to examples of non-violent resistance, we dig back to the inspiring movements of Gandhi and Dr. King, but what about non-violent movements today?

The recent controversial actions of...quarterback Colin Kaepernik -- who sparked a nationwide movement of protesting the systematic racism in our country against black people and people of color by refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem -- have been front and center in the media. Kaepernick's protesting of the national anthem is in every way an example of effective non-violent resistance: it is controversial; it is powerful; it is non-violent.

Because it is controversial, it has captured the attention of the nation. In the same way that violence attracts attention, non-violence is also meant to shake things up and be noticed.

If non-violent resistance returns power to those who have been lowered by society then it has accomplished one of the most important goals. In the same way that violence promises power. non-violence also must offer an effective return of power to the powerless.

The fact that this protest actively seeks a change without seeking harm to the other puts it squarely in the non-violent tradition. In the same way that violence promises change, non-violence must also promise change while preserving the dignity and value of every human being.

Whether or not one agrees with Kaepernick's protests, we can all agree that there is honor and courage in his use of non-violent methods to bring about change.

Historically, people have looked upon leaders of non-violent movements as 'trouble-makers'. Such labeling is usually an indication that the movement is making a difference, and this time...I hope it does."

It would appear that Sari is going to follow in the footsteps of his father. For sure, he is willing to address the RELEVANT issues of the day. If not him, who?


A PERSONAL OBSERVATION: KNEELING FOR ME IS A POWERFUL SYMBOL, WHETHER IT IS IN THE SAME PLACE FOR 150 YEARS, NEXT TO A FALLEN COMRADE IN VIETNAM IN 1967 OR AT THE BEGINNING OF A NFL FOOTBALL GAME IN 2017 -- On Monday following President Trump's attack on Colin Kaepernick, I listened to a number of African American sports talk commentators discuss the controversy. All were articulate and in particular pushed back against the criticism that a football game was not the right place or the right time to protest. My Take Away: I went on the inter-net and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail". YOU ALL SHOULD, TOO. If not now, when?   


    FRANK CHAVEZ: Great news is hard to come by these days, but COS Custodian Frank Chavez delivered some Thursday afternoon while he helped set up for SAGES. He told several of us that he had become a US Citizen the day before!!! Not only that, he also announced that his wife also had become a Citizen just a couple of months before him. Congratulations to the Chavez Family from the COS Family.

    SHERM & MARGE TELLEEN: They celebrated their 65 Wedding Anniverary Sunday. I congratulated them between Services, and Sherm told me that he was proud to say that he had had only one wife and one job and just two houses. Hardly anyone can make these statements today!

    VERA HOALIM: The Postlude was Toccata in C Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, and it was magnificently performed by one of Vera's students Audrey Lin, a 14 year old freshman at South Pasadena High School. Some day you may be saying "I remember when..." Thank You, Vera, and Thank You, Audrey.

JUBILEE TRANSITIONAL HOUSING TOUR -- Deacon Bill Doulos hosted his Annual Tour of the four houses which make up the COS Transitional Housing Ministry. The group was small, but Bill reports that the receptions they received were gratitying and informative. One thing which was clear is that this Ministry continues to impact the trajectories of many Journeys and that each house is managed by a dedicated group of three men and one women who care enormously for their residents. Witnessing the good work of Jubilee Homes and the increasing gentrification of Pasadena, I remember the insightful words of The Rev. Chas Belknap whom The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray had brought on as an advisor when we were considering accepting Bill Doulos' gift of the homes. "If you lose these homes, you will never be able to re-establish this Outreach Ministry because the neighbors will not allow you back in." Thank You, Fr. Chas.         

58,286! 58,286! 56,286!: Do You Know What This Number Is? --This is the number of names who lost their lives in Vietnam and are engraved on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC. I was prompted to look this up after watching the first two episodes of Ken Burns' "Vietnam War" on PBS. As harsh and tragic and brutal as this documentary is, we have forced ourselves to watch it because we fully supported the war as it was being fought. To say that we have been shocked by what we are learning is a huge, huge understatement. Even more astounding is that after several decades of acknowledging that we would never again become engaged in this type of warfare, we invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq, and we still are at war with an indigenous people on their terms, not ours. If you are not watching "The Vietnam War", you should. History is a great teacher, but not if no one is paying any attention.

PRAYING TOWARDS SUNDAY -- I was asked to write this week's 'Praying Towards Sunday' column because, (read here), Fr. Fuad Dagher from our Sister Parish in the Holy Land will be with us on October 8. Yes, I know this column appears just to the west of THE BEACON, but not everyone who gets THE BEACON receives the 'MESSENGER'. In addition, this gives me an opportunity to add a little hype to his appearance.

He had asked Fr. Gary for the Readings on 'his' Sunday, and Fr. Gary had copied us. We read them, and they all are harsh and negative; so we asked Fr. Gary if Fr. Fuad needed to preach to them. The answer was "No", and we called Fr. Fuad Monday night to alert him. Well, Fr. Fuad already has decided to focus on the Gospel Reading, and he is REALLY EXCITED about what he is going to say. All he would reveal is that "the Living Stones" would be featured prominently. Also, somewhere in this Service you will get to hear him sing "Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem". Bring some tissues!

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