THE BEACON: "We who are many are One Body, because we all share one bread and one cup."
SUNDAY FORUM: 'CAMP SONG SING-A-LONG' SHOWS GEEZERS CAN SING TOO -- Kicking off Vacation Bible School (VBS) Week which began on Monday, August 6, Gabe and Taylor Vazquez-Reyes led a group of parishioners whose average age was probably above 65 in a series of Camp Songs most had not re-visited in 40 or 50 years. That we sounded pretty good is a tribute to them AND Miss Addie Voris. One of the highlights for me was watching Sherm Telleen enthusiastically follow Miss Addie's and Taylor's gestures as we sang. We've known the Telleens since 1965 when I went to work for him at Scudder, Stevens & Clark. This was the only firm he ever worked for, having joined what was then Willis & Christy in the mid 1950's. I, on the other hand, worked for Scudder three different times, but the third stint would have never occurred if Sherm had not, to quote ABBA, "taken a chance on me!" He did have reservations, asking me why he should re-hire a guy who kept quitting his firm. I promised him that I would not quit again so he blessed my hiring. That was in 1983, and I stayed until the firm was sold in 1998. I silently thank him every time I see him as I did Sunday 35 years after the last hire as we sat together singing Camp Songs. The Lesson for you younger BEACON readers: "Never burn your bridges!!!"
After we finished singing, Taylor announced that 55 children were registered for VBS and, wonderfully, that many of the 22 people volunteering to assist are high school students recruited by Gabe's Youth Group. The theme this year is 'Spread The Good News', and Monday morning on facebook Taylor recognized the following adults as volunteers: Evie Escatiola, Juli Kennedy, Kathy Hardoy, Amanda Montoya, Nancy Duling, Judy Correnti, Celeste Origel, Carrie Voris and Gabe. As you fill out your Parish Profile Questionnaire, do not forget to acknowledge how blessed we are to have Gabe and Taylor in our midst.
MASS ON THE GRASS -- In what I would describe as Sunday Church Made Easy, right after we finished clapping and wishing everyone 'Shalom', we walked about 20 paces due east to Pepper Tree Lane. One thing that was clear from the beginning to the end of the Service was how many people from the Altar Guild and the staff behind the scenes were involved in making this such a joyful, huge success. THANK YOU, ALL!!!
As Fr. Honeychurch noted during Announcements, this is the second of three Services held in different locations this summer. As far as we are concerned, these changes in venue really work. I can't explain it, but the openness of the Grace Chapel Service and this one Sunday somehow make the Liturgy more user friendly. I found myself embracing it to a greater degree than I normally do in the Sanctuary. This is not to say that I want to worship 52 weeks a year away from the church, but the change of place was fulfilling and exhilarating. It was also gratifying to see all three congregations gathered together in worship. Finally, we should all be grateful for this beautiful campus which offers us the opportunity to worship outside, not only where we did Sunday but also in the Telleen Family Courtyard. To the extent that other parishes have had similar property available, many have found it necessary to convert this space into parking lots. Blessings counted!
WE NEED TO ATTRACT OLDER PEOPLE -- I will bet that every Questionnaire turned in will rate as one of our major objectives under the next priest the attraction of young families. This was the case in 2006 when we engaged in a major review of the parish's objectives, and it was one of the top five objectives in the last Parish Profile done in 1986.
With all due respect, I believe that we should be focusing on ALL AGE GROUPS ALONG THE ENTIRE AGE SPECTRUM. In 2018 every single person has needs which faith based institutions like COS can be helpful in addressing. For your information "old" people know stuff which younger folks can only experience with age. This is being brought home to me page after page as I read Parker Palmer's "ON THE BRINK OF EVERYTHING: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old". In addition to chronicling the joys of aging and the many contributions older people have to offer, he emphasizes that this demographic group is not "terming out" nearly as fast as it used to. FYI, when the retirement community where we live was opened in 1958, actuarial assumption had men retiring at 65 and leaving at 72. Today, the median age of our Royal Oaks neighbors is probably well above 85!!!
To prove my point that older folks make for great parishioners, I give you John & Peggy Vandercook. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and they love this place so much that they got married here in May!!! I mention them specifically because John stepped forward Sunday to be blessed on his 70th birthday. 70 is the new 50!!!
"WHAT IF MOSES HAD HAD A THOMAS GUIDE?' -- As Levi Thompson read the First Lesson from the Book of Exodus chronicling events after Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, I fantasized about being the preacher this day. What fertile ground? So many ways to go! How about entitling the Sermon "Are We There Yet?" Then, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my brother Saturday when he laughed at the fact that Sue uses MapQuest and stated that in 2018 Google Maps is what everyone uses. Advanced technology notwithstanding, the question still remains -- "WHAT IF MOSES HAD HAD ACCESS TO GOOGLE MAPS?"
While pondering how the history of the Middle East would have been so different, Fr. Honeychurch stepped up to the pulpit to preach. It was a wonderful Sermon, BUT there was one thing he said which made me realize that even if Moses had had a Thomas Guide or access to MapQuest or Google Maps, it would not have made any difference. Why do I say this? Well, Fr. Honeychurch is a 21st century man, a user of modern electronics, but a man is a man, regardless of when he lives. In his Sermon he proved this while telling us about his vacation. While traveling from Montana home to Pasadena on Interstate 15, rather than gas up in some civilized place like St. George, UT, he subjected his wife to stop for gas in Baker, NV!!! By his own admission, it was 120 degrees AND windy! So, even with the most current information available, he like most men did it his way; and I have no doubts that no amount of information would have changed Moses' mind. Sinai, the Nevada of the Middle East, or bust!
WHY YOU SHOULD FILL OUT THE PARISH QUESTIONNAIRE -- Sunday at church several people told me that they thought I was wrong to suggest that COS should confine its search to priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles. One person, reminding me of our past experience with the Cathedral Center, stated unequivocally that our decision should be our own, not one influenced from downtown. The other person felt that we should not limit ourselves to just those priests available in Southern California. "There are lots of talented priests around the country who might be just what we need." See, this is what might happen if only a few voices are heard from. Don't leave your opinion unheard. FILL OUT THE QUESTIONNAIRE!!! IT IS DUE AUGUST 13.
LATE BREAKING 'MUST READING': COMMUNITY OF DIVINE LOVE SUMMER NEWSLETTER -- Monday afternoon the Monks emailed their Summer Newsletter, and IT IS VERY, VERY INFORMATIVE. Sr. Greta writes in her column entitled "Comings and Goings" about many happenings, including the departures of Michelle Johnston and Shelby Nowland. In addition, she explained a new concept for prospective members which has become popular with monasteries called Alongsider.
"It is an invitation for men and women to live in community, sharing in the Ora et Labora (Prayer and Work) that is the monastic rhythm." The first person to join the Monastery under the Alongsider program is The Rev. Todd Blackham. If you see him around the campus, please welcome him.
Br. Dennis' column was entitled "Circles of Friendship", and it is a wonderful acknowledgement of the importance of community and how much the Monks appreciate their relationship with COS. One development which I would point out is a monthly 12-Step Spirituality meeting that "welcomes people from across the landscape of all 12-Step recovery programs". They meet on the second Saturday; for additional information, contact Br. Dennis.
In this regard, I note on the Questionnaire Form that no direct mention of suggested areas for comment included the Community of Divine Love (or PRISM). Although not officially classified as one of our Outreach Ministries, we believe both CDL and PRISM have become cornerstones of who we are. The contributions made by Sr. Greta and Br. Dennis to the spiritual life of our parishioners are second to none, the hospitality offered by the Monastery is available to all AND the work they do as Episcopal Chaplains in the County jails and prisons makes Jesus proud. Therefore, it is extremely important that the Vision we decide on for COS going forward incorporates the permanent establishment of the Monks in residence, both to insure their own stability and for our own good.