The Beacon

"This is the Lord's Table and ALL are Welcome!"

AN EASTER STATEMENT FROM THE REV. CANON FUAD DAGHER, RECTOR OF ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, COS'S SISTER PARISH IN GALILEE -- The following beautiful statement was posted on facebook on Saturday night. It accompanied four fantastic pictures of the church's altar and interior, and we share it because this is exactly how we feel about THE Church of Our Saviour:


GOD HEARD US!!! -- Although there were fewer of us at the 11:00 Service than in days of yesteryear, there never, ever was a greater MUSICAL expression honoring the Risen Lord than was heard at 535 West Roses Road Easter Sunday morning. From the Brass Quartet & Organ Prelude "Christ The Lord Has Risen" to The Sending Forth Hymn "He Is Risen, He Is Risen", the joyful music set the tone for us, lifting and exciting us and contributing to what has been one of the very best Easter Weeks. As if this were not enough, The Offertory Anthem "Ye Choirs Of New Jerusalem" must have been heard throughout the West San Gabriel Valley (and perhaps even in heaven). What an incredible arrangement!!! We thank Canon Phil Smith, the 16 Choir members, and the five instrumentalists. If the Altar Guild is the Heart of the COS Concentric Circle (See Below), Phil and his Gang are the next most important 'organ' (pun intended) at COS.

I have to tell you that when Verger Joanna Cory came down the aisle leading the Processional as we all sang "Jesus Christ Is Risen today, Alleluia!", I cried. That level of emotion never abated as Canon Phil kept introducing more brass at every turn while Fr. Honeychurch's Sermon was provoking and challenging, providing us with plenty to think about in the coming year. Also deeply moving was his blessing of the four people who had been confirmed Saturday night at St. John's Pro-Cathedral. I can not do his prayer justice, but I have never witnessed the blessing of a person's eyes, ears, hands and feet, with the priest getting down on his hands and knees to complete the blessing. All I can say is that I'm sorry everyone I know did not have the opportunity of experiencing what Sue and I experienced on Palm and Easter Sunday. Our Journey just received an enormous jolt of 'purpose'!!!    

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A POWERFUL MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE -- In his very short time with us, Fr. Honeychurch has added some interesting dimensions to life at COS, and Maundy Thursday was no exception. In addition to soups aplenty and all the fixins', the 45 people in attendance were reminded by Fr. Honeychurch about the importance food and meals play in our spiritual Journeys. He emphasized this by drawing on the following four readings from Scripture and asking each table to discuss an accompanying question:

The First Meal -- Genesis  3:1-7 "How have your eyes been opened, how have you come to see things in a new way, through your experience of eating with other people?"

The Passover -- Exodus 12:1-13 "What is God leading you 'out of', and what is God leading you 'in to' at this point in your life?"

The Parable of the Great Banquet -- Luke 14:15-24 "Who is God inviting you -- who is God inviting us -- to bring in to your life, and in to this community who is not already here?"

The Last Supper -- Matthew 26:17-30 "How has your life been changed by sharing in this sacred meal? What are some of your most memorable experiences as a result of sharing in the Holy Eucharist?"

Why don't you look up each of these readings and then answer the questions? Our table, which included Sally & Harry Baldwin, Bev & Jerry Harris, Steve Hawkins, Cynthia Berne and Laurel Bullock, found the exercise very stimulating and yet another way to get to know our fellow parishioners. We all agreed that sharing a meal really does bring a Community together.

Our Maundy Thursday evening ended with Communion in Cleaver Hall, a beautiful Service in which each table shared the bread and wine with one another. Community -- it's ALL about Community!

GOOD FRIDAY -- My heart wanted to be at COS at 7:30, but my body had other ideas. However, the reports are that this Service was just as exceptional as every other part of Holy Week. For the record, here is Canon Phil Smith's summary from his facebook page:

"A FULL HEART! Good Friday: Last evening at The Church of Our Saviour, Our Saviour Choir and guests, with guest organist, Joseph Peeples, sang the ever powerful setting of the Passion by Sir John Stainer, "The Crucifixion". The congregation gathered, sang the hymns and then at the conclusion of the singing, the Veneration of the Cross and singing of "Were You There?" concluded the Good Friday evening Service.

"Thank you to all of our singers: Matt Aldrich, soloist, Michele Baker, Tiffany Bowles, Patrick Crandall, Brian Dyer, soloist, Phil Gold, soloist, Lisa Hsu, Juli Johnson Kennedy, Rebecca Rasmussen Tufenkian, Kim Sirean, Patricia Linder Teele, Cheryl Townsend, Douglas Wilkie, and guests: Stephen Salts, bass soloist, Jimmy Traum, tenor soloist, Joshua Gusman, Shauna L. Howard, Gordon LaCross, Karen Mcinnis, Joel Nesvadba, Jeanie Riddell and Jocelyn Scofield. And thank you to the Community of Divine Love, Brother Dennis Gibbs and Sister Greta Ronningen, for being Co-Officiants and Maura Hooper, for her reading of the Isaiah Lesson. Thank you to the congregation and friends for your presence last evening. Also, to our Interim Rector The Rev. Dr. Bob Honeychurch, for his assistance and guidance this Holy Week!" 

I BELIEVE EVERY INDIVIDUAL OR INSTITUTIONAL JOURNEY CONSISTS OF A SERIES OF CONCENTRIC CIRCLES: AT COS I BELIEVE OUR ALTAR GUILD STANDS AT THE CENTER OF OUR CIRCLE AND IS OUR 'HEART' -- This was reaffirmed for me last Saturday afternoon when Sharon Crandall posted a picture of the Altar Guild & Friends standing on the steps of the Choir together after completing the decoration of our beautiful Sanctuary. Talk about a fabulous example of COMMUNITY! You know how many people showed up on Saturday to make sure our sanctuary was special on Easter Sunday? 29!!! TWENTY NINE!!! Thank you, each and everyone of you. You are proof positive that the Journey takes a village!

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN -- Years ago The Rev. Gary Bradley blessed me with the opportunity to write a weekly column. He decided that we should call it The BEACON, following up on a comment he had made at an Annual Meeting when he stated that he "wanted COS to stand out like a BEACON in the community". With this in mind, we agreed that I would be charged with celebrating the great works which this parish is doing 24/7.

This has turned out to be an extremely rewarding assignment for me, given who COS's parishioners are; and I have never had a shortage of material. How ironic it was, then, that when the time came to honor, to celebrate and to thank Gary and Peg I was AWOL. If ever anyone should have been celebrated in The BEACON, it is the Bradleys whose contributions to the quality of life we all have been privileged to experience sustained us over the last seven years.

Had I been functioning in January, the one story I definitely would have related for those new to the parish is how fortunate, how blessed, we were to have Fr. Bradley available to become our Rector in 2012. I am uniquely qualified to relate this story because Sue Smock was the Senior Warden then. Actually, she was Bishop Bruno's Senior Warden because he had been called in to resolve a growing division within the parish. After it was agreed that Fr. Michael Battle would step aside, Bishop Bruno to his great credit realized that the best course of action would to be place a person who had extensive knowledge of the parish in charge, not an outsider. The obvious was The Rev. Gary Bradley who already had been in the employ of COS for the most part of ten years as the Rector of Immanuel El Monte where Our Saviour Center is located. In addition, The Rev. Peg Bradley had previously joined our staff, and they were living in one of our Roses Road houses.

What neither Bishop Bruno nor anyone else had anticipated was how incredibly effective Fr. Gary was going to be in accelerating the healing of the parish. In fact, he had such a calming influence that at the next Annual Meeting, the same one in which he announced that he wanted the parish to be a BEACON, he also said that he would be honored to serve as our permanent Rector. To a person everyone rose to their feet and applauded. Unfortunately, one of Bishop Bruno's stipulations when he placed Fr. Gary was that we would not be able to begin a Search for new priest for two years. He believed it would take that much time to heal.

However, seeing the parish's response to Fr. Gary's desire to become our permanent Rector, Sue called Bishop Bruno following that Annual Meeting and asked if the prohibition to considering a new Rector included Fr. Gary. Bishop Bruno said that if the Vestry approved, we could call him; and the rest is history.

Although Fr. Gary came to characterize his years with us as serving as a 'place holder', I think everyone remembers his service and contributions to COS as much, much greater than as a transitional 'place holder'. He healed us, and he leaves us in a position to create an incredible vision going forward. The Bottom Line is that the next person to be called to be our Rector is going to have an enormous opportunity to make a huge difference in our changing world and church. THANK YOU, FR. GARY AND REV. PEG. 

LILIES 'R' US -- Pastoral Care is a cornerstone of what makes for a strong and relevant community, and nobody does it better these days than Deacon Bill Doulos. Hopefully, none of you will need to call him soon to ask for assistance; but if you are hurting or know someone who is, he can be reached at 626-282-5147 x 26.

Thirty people did this Easter, and Deacon Bill, assisted by Rev. Nancy Shier, Fr. Thomas Ni and four parishioners, delivered lilies to those 30 people in need; and Bill reports that he also delivered Communion to six. As I think you will all agree, this is an incredible and relevant ministry integral to living up to what it means to be in Community. Fortunately for COS, we have a Deacon who truly loves to serve us in this capacity!

That said, it is obvious to us that the demands on Deacon Bill's time in this area are continuing to grow. So, we suggest that at this point in time when COS is about to re-vision itself, the parish incorporate in its future considerations the discussion of the re-establishment of a Stephen Ministry. We served in this ministry when it was first created twenty years ago, and we believe our collective contribution to complimenting and easing the work load of the clergy was very helpful. It's time to consider resurrecting this ministry.  

DAN BANKS HAS LEFT US -- Geezers are an odd lot, but one thing we have in common is that we know "stuff"; and no one at COS knew more "stuff" than Dan. I valued his friendship and his love of COS, and I will miss listening to him reminise about his many years as a parishioner. Fortunately, many of these have been recorded for posterity, but nothing will replace having him to sit with in the Telleen Family Courtyard and talk after the 10:00 Service. RIP, Dan, and thank you!

PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER, TOO: THEY HAVE WAITED SINCE 1948 FOR THE WORLD TO BRING JUSTICE. NOW THEY ARE READY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN -- On Good Friday 30,000 Gazans participated in what was called The Great Return March. This took its name from UN Resolution 194 passed in 1948 declaring the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date. The  date chosen for this March was to commemorate Land Day which took place on March 30, 1976, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government's decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian owned land. This peaceful, non-violent march was greeted by 100 Israeli snipers aligned along a berm at the border between Israel and the Gaza 'Prison'. Armed only with Palestinian flags and posters, 17 Palestinians were killed and over 1,400 injured.

How can we Americans, we Christians, we advocates for democracy, tolerate this sort of brutal response to a peaceful protest by the only "democracy in the middle east"? As a frame of reference, we all got upset when the Police showed up in Ferguson fully armed and accompanied by massive armored vehicles once employed in Iraq. However, we collectively remain SILENT when the victims are Palestinians! Shame on us!!! Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church visited Gaza during Holy Week. We await his comments.

FYI, if you would like to learn about the "other side" of the Israeli / Palestinian Conflict, we recommend a Conference next month entitled "Israel & the Nakba at 70". It is sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North America and is being held at Monte Vista Grove Homes, 2889 San Pasqual on the morning of May 12.