THE BEACON: "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?"
"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are welcome!"
PERHAPS THE MOST POWERFUL PALM SUNDAY SERVICE, EVER!!! -- At 10:00 AM it was beautiful and sunny on the Telleen Family Court Yard as Fr. Honeychurch welcomed us all to the beginning of the Palm Sunday Service. He and Fr. Ni set a wonderful tone for what was to come, and we were not disappointed. After processing around Cleaver Hall with the Choir leading us in The Processional Psalm Confitemini Domino, the clergy, choir and participants entered through the bell tower door singing The Entry Hymn "All Glory, Laud and Honor to Thee, Redeemer, King!". All I can say is "WOW!!!". If you weren't inspired and moved by this, there may not be hope for you. (I thanked Canon Phil Smith after the Service and told him how much the Choir and their music add to the fullness of our Spiritual Journey, EVERY Sunday.)
What followed was different from any previous Palm Sunday and dramatically brought home to us the reason we were all there. Six parishioners, dressed in black and sitting on stools in a semi-circle in front of the Choir area, read "The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ" created by a friend of Fr. Honeychurch's. It was intense and stunning, accentuated by timpani in the background. And then...as we sat in silence reflecting on what we had just heard, Fr. Honeychurch brought out his own stool, placed it at the top of the steps and delivered a magnificent Meditation. It was amazing!
This year, rather than being given crosses made from palm fronds before the Service, we were given the fronds instead which we waved during the Processional. Then, after the Service we were each given a cross which was so lovingly made by the Altar Guild and Friends the previous Wednesday. I was particularly moved when I saw Sr. Greta with a large zip bag full of crosses which she was going to take to the jails Sunday afternoon. Having heard her and Br. Dennis and Sharon Crandall testify previously to how important their presence is to so many of our incarcerated brothers and sisters, I know Sr. Greta came home with an empty bag!
10 HOURS EARLIER & 7,575 MILES TO THE EAST -- At midnight our time Sunday morning thousands of Christians from around the world began the Palm Sunday walk of Jesus from Bethpage up the eastern side of the Mount of Olives and down the hill in to Jerusalem. We actually made that walk seven years ago, and it was truly inspiring. As with most Christian celebrations in the Holy Land, we were led by the obligatory Scout Drum Corp, with us Pilgrims singing and praying "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" in our many languages and waving palm fronds or olive branches. In addition to experiencing the great joy exhibited by everyone around you, the highlight for us was at the bottom of the Mount of Olives where we passed by the Garden of Gethsemane and were able to view the magnificent 2000 year old olive trees. The "walk" really did enhance our appreciation and understanding forever of Palm Sunday.
THE OLIVE TREE -- By the way, for those of you who are new or may have forgotten, THE Church of Our Saviour is blessed with an OLIVE TREE with Holy Land roots which was given as a gift from our Sister Parish St. Paul's in the Galilee. The Rev. Canon Fuad Dagher initiated this as an expression of "thanks" to The Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray and in recognition of The Rev. Gary Bradley's call to be our priest. He said he chose the Olive Tree because it is "a symbol of abundance, glory and peace". It is located in the center of the Prayer Circle at the south end of Cleaver Hall. During this Easter Week, take time to visit the tree and say a prayer for our Palestinian Christian Sisters and Brothers in Israel, in the West Bank and in Gaza who are faced with conditions not dissimilar from those which Jesus had to deal with 2000 years ago!
HOW DID THE REV. CANON FUAD DAGHER CELEBRATE PALM SUNDAY? -- This is a trick question. This year the four non-orthodox Christian denominations in our Sister Parish community are recognizing the Eastern Calendar to express ecumenical unity. This year Easter will be celebrated on April 8, but last Sunday still was an important day because in the Holy Land they celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, the date when the Archangel visited the Virgin Mary. We mention this because we find it uplifting how hard clergy work in the Diocese of Jerusalem on building ecumenical and inter-faith relations.
For the record, this is how Fr. Fuad spent his Sunday. He was up at six to go to the sanctuary to decorate and clean. By choice, he has no Altar Guild. After a celebratory 10:00 Service he hosted all of the mothers (only) for lunch. Then, he drove as fast as he could to East Jerusalem to participate in the installation of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church as Canon of the Chair of Mount Gerizim in St. George's Cathedral. This was the Chair which Bishop Bruno occupied while he was still a bishop. However, because of the limited number of Chairs in the Cathedral, once a bishop retires, the responsibility is passed on to another individual. Fr. Fuad noted proudly that he was given the honor of vesting Presiding Bishop Curry. Just another normal day in Fr. Fuad's Spiritual Journey!!!
FYI, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry arrived in East Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to celebrate at St. George's Cathedral and spend Holy Week visiting the many outreach ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem. Hopefully, he will come home with a more forceful condemnation of the OCCUPATION than his predecessor. The U.S. Christian community needs to speak out NOW AND LOUDLY for justice for ALL of the people in the Holy Land! Stand by.
WOMEN'S RETREAT: ANOTHER RELEVANT COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER -- Saturday Laurel Bullock and Kit Shenk hosted what they hope will become a regular gathering. After serving what was characterized as a "healthy" breakfast, the rest of the morning included a beautiful Morning Prayer Service in the church led by Laurel, then a 'getting to know you' exercise led by Kit, followed by her expertly conducting a Lectio Divina study of the 23rd Psalm. What is Lectio Divina, you ask? "Divine Reading is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word." The morning concluded with a time of Meditation and the opportunity to walk the Labyrinth (See Below). From all reports, this will not be the last of these gatherings. Congratulations, Laurel and Kit.
THE LABYRINTH WELCOMES YOU -- The women walked the Labyrinth? Where is there a Labyrinth? A while ago the Community of Divine Love constructed one behind their eastern residence (619 West Roses Road). Many may not know of its existence, but the Monks invite any and all to walk it at your convenience. The hours are 9:00 to 7:00 daily, except Monday.
"Why walk a Labyrinth? Walking into a labyrinth is a symbol of entering into something, learning what there is to learn, and then moving on with life. A labyrinth walk can represent a life journey, a pilgrimage to a sacred place, or a prayer bringing us to God. It can be a way of intentionally and reflectively facing a problem or issue. Sometimes you may walk the labyrinth looking for an answer. You may walk simply to be open to what comes. A labyrinth walk is a spiritual and personal journey, and therefore it is a sacred path. The labyrinth is a spiritual tool serving as a walk-centering activity for the human heart, mind and soul."
MARCH 24 MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE AND IT IS STUNNING!!! -- I sat Saturday morning mesmerized by what I was witnessing. One after another teenagers walked up to the podium in Washington DC and articulately delivered a message condemning gun violence in a way I had never heard before. White, black, brown, girl, boy, they maturely challenged the political leadership of this country to act to protect our children. I cried many times that morning, and I was reminded yet again what I have believed for some time, particularly after seeing the demographic breakdown of the support for Bernie Sanders. THE YOUNG PEOPLE WILL LEAD US OUT OF THE WILDERNESS AND BACK TO A COUNTRY WHERE THE RIGHTS OF ALL PEOPLE ARE RESPECTED!!!
For starters, they are smart and aware of what is happening. Importantly, they also are compassionate and caring, and they are called to make the world better, to make a difference. I see this in our four grandchildren whom I can objectively say are so much more mature at their ages -- 21, 20, 18 and 17 -- than we EVER were in the 1950's.
The Bottom Line: This is a new demographic which politicians are going to have to deal with going forward. I believe they WILL VOTE, and they will run for office on platforms which reflect equality and justice for all. This being the case, the challenge for The Episcopal Church is to communicate to these young people that we are with them, that we have been on the 'right' side of almost every issue they have supported for years. We ARE the spiritual alternative, a vehicle to deliver the message of equality and justice for all because our spiritual charge is "to do unto others...and care for the least among us".
As Bob Dylan might say:
Come you mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you don't understand
Your sons and daughters are beyond your command
Your old role is rapidly fading
Please get out of the way if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changing!
6 MINUTES AND 20 SECONDS!!! -- Every speech given Saturday is worth listening to; but if you only have time for one, find Emma Gonzalez's. She was the last to talk, and she came out and read off the names of the 17 Parkland victims, noting what each "would NEVER" be able to do again. This took about two minutes, and THEN she just should there, eyes closed holding the paper with the names of the victims. SILENCE, and more SILENCE, and more SILENCE. The hundreds of thousands of attendees didn't know exactly what to do, sometimes applauding, sometimes shouting "Emma", but she continued to stand there, SILENT. For the balance of the SIX MINUTES AND TWENTY SECONDS, the time it it took to kill 17 students and staff, she stood SILENT. One analyst summed up her appearance as follows: "It was the 18 year-old's way of showing the world how it felt to crouch in a school room for 6 minutes and 20 seconds while a murderer carried out his shooting spree. THE LOUDEST SILENCE IN THE HISTORY OF U.S. SOCIAL PROTEST."
"Fight for your lives before it's somebody else's job", she said. VOTE!
THIS WAS A SIGN HELD BY AN OLDER LADY DEMONSTRATING LAST SATURDAY IN COLUMBUS, OHIO -- "FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU CUT MY FOOD STAMPS, I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU DEPORTED ME, I WAS SICK AND YOU DENIED ME HEALTHCARE, I WAS A CHILD AFRAID TO GO TO SCHOOL, AND YOU VOTED WITH THE NRA."
Matthew 25: 35-36
New Hypocritical Version
COS IN THE SAN MARINO TRIBUNE -- The Communications Committee, thanks to a financial contribution from a parishioner, had a wonderful ad in the San Marino Tribune just before Easter Week. Very eye catching and inviting, and I think we have Gabe Vazquez-Reyes and Carrie Voris to thank. Look out 21st century, here we come!