The Importance of Spiritual Formation
Christianity is a way of life. It is a way of life that is meant to reveal to us our most authentic, original selves. It is a way of life that seeks to align us with God’s purpose and hope for us. Jesus introduces us to this way of life, and the church is designed to help us practice and live into this lifestyle.
Epiphany is the gym for the heart and the restaurant for the soul. The heart is the home of our free will, and it is through the formation of the heart that habits of grace and goodness become our default ways of being. The soul is God’s conspiratorial partner that correlates, integrates and enlivens all parts of our being, from heart (also known as spirit or will), to mind, to body, to community. The soul continuously seeks God on our behalf. Worship liberates our soul and unites our souls with other souls intentionally seeking God. Worship, by way of the Eucharist, strengthens and refreshes our souls.
Epiphany’s spiritual formation program is about forming the heart and feeding the soul. It takes many forms, from worship and sermons, to meditation and minyans, to Bible studies and book groups. It also includes small groups, outreach activities, and a sincere attempt to practice the spiritual exercises. They include: daily prayer (Hour by Hour being our common form), weekly Sunday worship, practicing Sabbath, knowing and living into the liturgical calendar, preparing and going on pilgrimage, tithing our wealth and fasting our bodies.
Sunday morning is central to forming the heart and feeding the soul. For the children there is worship and spiritual formation to meet their needs. For adults there are +TEC (Teaching the Essence of Christianity) Sunday Forums. But this year I would encourage you to consider how the Christian lifestyle extends beyond your Sunday morning. As you will note, formation opportunities happen throughout the week at Epiphany. Pick something that fits your schedule. Choose something that fires your passion or pushes your buttons or is beyond your comfort-zone. Epiphany is a safe place for exploring your most authentic self. It is a place to peel back the paint poured upon you by life, toward the end of returning to your most authentic, God-inspired self. Joy and peace will be your reward.
The Cycle of Judges: A Cautionary Tale
An introduction to the book of Judges by The Rev. Kate Wesch
This fall at Epiphany, from September through November, we are exploring a little known book of the Bible. We will all be studying the book of Judges at +TEC (Teaching the Essence of Christianity) Sunday morning forums, in the scripture readings during worship, and as a continuing theme from the pulpit.
If you are very familiar with the Bible or happen to know this odd little book, you might be surprised or wondering to yourself why we would spend so much time devoted to Judges. It is a fair question. The book of Judges is full of violence, degradation, and suffering. It is a harsh story, episodic in its telling. The cycle is this: Israel sins, which causes God to oppress Israel through the attacks of foreign enemies. God then raises up a judge-deliverer to defeat the foreign enemy, which leads to Israel falling back into sin after the death of the judge. We see this cycle repeating over and over throughout the book. As the story progresses though, the cycle falls apart, and the judges become less and less effective.
It is important to consider the book as a whole rather than pulling individual stories out of context. When read in its entirety, there are overall themes which emerge: themes of cooperation and betrayal, divine retribution and human complicity, initiative and loss.
The book is a journey as Israel falls apart, as the community disintegrates into individualism. Parallel to that journey from cooperation to self-preservation is the movement from harmony with God to a time of betrayal of God.
So, the question remains, why read Judges? How can such a dismal story have anything to teach us today? Why would a violent book such as this relate in any way to our modern context?
The primary message of this tragedy is how continued rebellion against God and sin leads to a loss of freedom and eventual death. Judges is a piece of the larger history of Israel, spanning five books of the Bible: Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings.
“For this reason, the book of Judges is a vitally important witness in the scriptures. Its witness is not one that we can ignore, because it is a cautionary tale that warns us to pay attention to those aspects of our religious and moral life that are particularly dangerous precisely because they are so important. And, by patiently hearing its witness in all of its fullness, we may also recognize the hope that it can bring us” (Heller 11).
Judges is a cautionary tale, a warning to pay attention to details that we may too easily overlook in our individual and collective lives. It can function as an excellent resource for helping us to think through some of those unhelpful and harmful ways of living that may be “right in our own eyes.” That’s how the Israelites felt in those days. They viewed their destructive behavior as “right in their own eyes.” But at the end of the day, the unhelpful, harmful, and destructive ways of living are actually “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
The world is full of tragedy, and scripture teaches us how to view the suffering and hopefully transform it. Lessons learned from these stories help us shed light on the complexities of our own lives: “Tragedy in general provides us a way of understanding human nature better, a human nature in which choices and decisions can have devastating effects” (Heller, 97).
These are just a few of the themes and ideas we will be touching on throughout our study of Judges. I invite you to read Judges, attend the forums, and engage the sermons because I believe these old stories do have something of great value to offer us.
AN UPDATE FROM THE BUILDING TEAM
The building permits for phase one are processing as expected, and the Building Team is in ongoing conversation around several design elements for phase two. We have had meetings with folks about the stained glass windows in the chapel, about hearing assist devices for the church, and continue to discuss the design for the grounds.
The Next 100 Years Building Team
Ed Emerson, Laura Blackmore, Bob Barnes, Jim Marlow, Ben Bradstreet
Contact the Building Team at email@example.com.
Children & Youth Programs
Children’s Sunday Curriculum
Godly Play (Grades preK–3)
Godly Play is a story-based program which teaches children the art of using Christian language—parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action—to help them become aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives.
Living the Good News (Grades 4–5)
Living the Good News is a lectionary-based curriculum which engages students in reflection, discussion, and activity around a different set of scriptures every week.
Shared Eucharist (All grades)
Sunday School classes join the service during the Liturgy of the Table. We hope that this time together with our whole community will build a sense of familiarity with the rhythm and physicality of Sunday worship for children.
Elizabeth Walker, Children’s Ministry Convener
Sunday School Schedule for Children
9 am–noon: The Nursery is open for children up to and including 3 years of age.
9:15-10:30 am: The Meeting Place is a gathering spot where children in grades preK–5 can play games, do art projects, sing songs, hear stories and pray. New This Fall: Epiphany Kids PAW (Praise and Worship) Music with Kathea Yarnell. Drop off your children at 9 am.
10:30 am: Sunday School begins with check-in at The Meeting Place for grades preK–5. Children will be dismissed to their classrooms from there.
Around 11:15 am: Children come into church with their Sunday School classes and sit with their class and teachers. Or, when given permission at check-in, a child may join parents for the remainder of the Eucharist. If this option works best for your family, please sit near the front.
- Grades 4–5 will sit in the balcony until the end of the service.
- Grades preK–3 will enter by the Sacristy and sit in the front rows of the church.
Parents pick up children from The Meeting Place after the service.
Elizabeth Walker, Children’s Ministry Convener
Youth at Epiphany are an integral part of our community and, like adults, are involved in many different parts of our common life: as youth acolytes, as lectors, teaching our younger children, and participating in pastoral care and social action, including helping at Teen Feed and the YWCA apartment clean up. Youth also gather weekly for youth group.
The Epiphany youth group meets Sunday nights during the school year from 5–7 pm in the youth group room in the basement of Christie House. All youth, grades 6–12, are welcome to join us as we check-in with each other about our lives, eat dinner together, and participate in lively discussions and fun activities as a Christian community.
Laura Sargent, Youth Group Convener
Children’s Music Programs
Singing is an integral part of our worship experience. In a welcoming environment we build community, spirit, and music, all in praise to God! We have something for everyone!
Kids PAW (Praise and Worship) Music
Sundays, 9 am (The Meetings Place)
Drop your elementary-age children off before you go to +TEC to sing songs of praise and worship while getting a taste of organized group singing and vocal guidance. The kids who participate in PAW will prepare a few contributions to service for Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, and for the end of the Sunday School Year.
Epiphany CITs (Choristers-in-Training)
Thursdays, 4–5 pm (Choristers Room)
Children in grades K–4 are encouraged to join the CIT choir! This is a safe, welcoming environment where our young singers will learn musicianship, confidence, liturgy, good vocal practice, community building, and spiritual connection all while having fun and praising God! CIT’s will provide music in service at Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, and end of year as well as a few community engagements as they are fit.
+Dinner hour is from 5-6 pm between rehearsals. A light dinner can be provided upon request.
Thursdays, 5:30–6:30 pm (Choristers Room)
Youth from grade 3 and up are welcome to join the Choristers at Epiphany! In the Choristers we strive to build community and spiritual connection while we learn good vocal technique, liturgy, musicianship, confidence, responsibility and all kinds of music. Choristers will participate in the service providing music every 5-7 weeks, as well as Christmas Eve, Holy Week, Pentecost, and a few community engagements.
Kathea Yarnell, Music Associate
Open Classes and Small Groups
Sundays, October 5–26 at 5–6 pm (Fireside Room)
New to Epiphany? Curious about what it means “to be a member”? Come to this 4-part series led by the Rev. Doyt Conn and the Rev. Kate Wesch. The class will include a campus tour, conversation, and instruction around worship and prayer. Bring your curiosity and your questions.
Transitions: An Interior Pilgrimage in Community
Sundays starting September 21 at 5 pm (TBD)
Starting early fall, Diana Bender will convene a small group to journey in community through transition. The group will meet for 90 minutes per week over the course of six weeks, using different experiential approaches to prayer and exploring ways to engage faith in the midst of a variety of life changes, large and small. We’ll experience Taizé, Compline, a labyrinth, mandalas, and approaches from the Benedictine and Ignatian traditions. No need to share what your transition is about. To sign up, contact Diana.
Talking About Books: Monthly Book Group
First meeting: Friday, September 19 at noon (TBD)
Talking About Books is a relaxed, friendly, no-assigned-reading monthly group led by Ann Lockhart. If you have discovered a book you’d like to share, come and tell us about it. If you haven’t been reading this month but want some recommendations, come anyway. We’ll go around the room, sharing what books we’ve discovered, and we’ll go home with a couple of book recommendations (or maybe even some borrowed books). Everyone is welcome.
Meditation at Epiphany
Guided Meditation with Pieter Drummond
Wednesdays & Fridays, 8:30 am (Chapel)
Supporting those who are new to the practice or those who have had years of experience, Pieter provides instruction and guidance.
Unguided Meditation with Sean McKee
Mondays, 7 pm (Fireside Room)
A community resource for meditation out of SIMS (Seattle Insight Meditation Society). All are welcome, but those new to meditation are encouraged to take an intro class at SIMS before attending.
Teaching the Essence of Christianity (+TEC)
+TEC Sunday Forums
Our life at Epiphany is anchored in two Sunday services of Holy Eucharist at 8 am and 10:30 am. Between services, you are invited to an hour of Christian education and faith development. The Sunday Forums this fall are focused on the exploration of the book of Judges. Childcare and activities for children and youth are available so that adults may take full advantage of this time.
Introduction to the 2014–2015 Year
September 7 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
This “fireside chat” with The Rev. Doyt Conn is your opportunity to get caught up on life at Epiphany. Get to know new staff members and communication procedures, hear about construction schedules for the year, and learn about Doyt’s upcoming sabbatical and the Lilly Foundation grant allowing it to happen. It’s a big agenda, but important information for a significant year in the life of Epiphany.
Sinister Assassins and Romantic Rogues: An Introduction to the Book of Judges
September 14, 21 & 28 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
How can a fratricidal monarch or a romantic rogue relate to one of the most radical versions of God’s grace? Dr. Frank Spina, Professor of Old Testament at Seattle Pacific University, returns to +TEC to show us why Judges may have a more important role to play in our Christian canon than previously thought.
The Women of Judges
October 5 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
Women play a variety of roles in this book—from strong, redemptive characters all the way down to pawns in a violent struggle. By the end of the book, the role of women is reduced to passive, nameless, faceless objects. The sharp decline of women mirrors the same movement of Israel itself from unity to fragmentation. Join the Rev. Kate Wesch in taking a closer look at these “texts of terror” and making some sense out of these harrowing tales.
Murder in the Cathedral
October 12 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
T.S Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral tells the story of Thomas Beckett, a man who reigned as Archbishop of Canterbury during the 12th century. Beckett was murdered inside the Cathedral by loyal supporters of King Henry II. The story is guided by Canterbury women whose commentary of the conflict between King and Archbishop are reflections of today’s conflict between those who have power and those who suffer under that power. Kari Glover discusses how this theme, not incidentally, is repeatedly brought out in the Minor Prophets.
Overcoming Poor Self-Image
October 19 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a cosmic tale of good versus evil and a world class story to boot. Tolkien’s description of providence and individual transformation isn’t as explicitly as Christian as his fellow Inkling, C.S. Lewis; nevertheless, these are deeply religious works that provide thought provoking insights. Jonathan Roberts, our resident “all-things-Lewis enthusiast,” will share his reflections on this wonderful tale as well as providing a bit of background on Tolkien and his frame of reference in writing these incredible classics.
The Importance of Character
October 26 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
Being the First Lady has been described as the second hardest job in America. These women in the White House can shape American thought through their deeds and actions. Some of the First Ladies have had remarkable spiritual influences on their husbands and the nation. Laura Sargent walks us through the lives of some of these fascinating women.
Samson: White Hat or Black Hat?
November 2 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
Samson is popularly viewed as one of the great Biblical heroes, but his actions make him seem like something much darker too. Ben Bradstreet will look at this perception of Samson as hero, and at how this story can shine a light on our struggle with a God who seems both fiercely compassionate and fiercely vengeful.
Comprehending Our Character
November 9 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
Imagine God as a great storyteller. Since creation God has been generating a complex masterpiece in which humans co-write their parts. What character are you called to play? Charissa Bradstreet will help us consider how to honor both our freedom and our calling as important characters within an extraordinary, unfolding story of redemption and grace.
Why Morality Really Mattered: Historiography of Ancient Israel
November 16 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
The Old Testament is full of history, but modern culture tends to discount it because it isn’t “factual”. And if it isn’t factual, then it can’t be believed. But do facts make history? In this session, Steve Clemons will ask you to perceive ancient history through the senses of the ancients who believed God was history and history was God.
Rescued from a Cult: The Danger of False Religions
November 23 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
Cults, and groups with cult like qualities, are as alive and well today as they were in the time of the Judges. The essence of idolatry today, as it was then, is about subordinating God’s will to ours—living in “my kingdom” or “our kingdom” instead of the Kingdom of God. Emily Linderman will walk us through an exercise on whether we are living in “cults” without realizing it.
Panel Discussion: A Review of the Lessons Learned from the Book of Judges
November 30 at 9:15 am (Great Hall)
In this +TEC session, the last of the season, we will reflect on the lessons from the Book of Judges. This will be a “town hall” moderated by Barbara Cairns and any question or comment pertaining to Judges can be raised to the panel.
Family Caregiving Near and Far
November 30, December 7 & 14 at 9:15 (TBD)
Do you provide care to an elder (or a friend) who is struggling with dementia or other chronic conditions, such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, or mental health issues? Are you concerned about a family member who is in decline and who seems to be in denial about it? In small group discussion and case study presentation, Kathryn Barrett, RN and Parish Nurse, will lead an exploration of the challenges and rewards of providing on-going care. Possible conversation points include effective communication, safety assessments, community resources , sibling relationships, decision making, and long-term planning.
The Epiphany Minyans
The word, “Minyan” in Hebrew means “to count,” referring to the quorum of Jewish adults required for daily prayers. At Epiphany we have adopted this concept and applied it to our common study life. Minyans at Epiphany are groups that gather on a regular basis to study the Kingdom of God. Each Minyan has a leader assigned to gather the group, open with Hour by Hour prayers, and then guide the group into conversation and reflection on a given text or spiritual discipline.
Falling Upward: The Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life (with The Rev. Doyt Conn)
Wednesdays, Sept 10–Oct 29 at noon (Christie House Library)
Richard Rohr’s small book Falling Upward works on the premise that there are two halves to our life. The first is about building the container of who we are, and the second is about what we fill that container with. Whether you are seeking good formation in the first half of life, or working through suffering as you transition into the second half of life, or looking for a place to peel back the layers to uncover your soul, then this class is for you.
Take This Bread (with The Rev. Kate Wesch)
Mondays, Sept 15–Oct 13 at 9 am (Music Library)
Join me in reading Sara Miles’ book, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. This compelling and engaging narrative is a self-described “spiritual memoir of a twenty-first-century Christian.” Miles writes, “One early, cloudy morning when I was forty-six, I walked into a church, ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine. . . . In that shocking moment of communion, filled with a deep desire to reach for and become part of a body, I realized that what I’d been doing with my life all along was what I was meant to do: feed people.” Contact Kate Wesch to register.
C.S. Lewis Minyan (with Jonathan Roberts)
Thursdays starting Sept 11 at 8:30–9:30 am (Music Library)
Discuss the works of theologian and author C.S. Lewis with our resident Lewis enthusiast. We read a different book for each season.
Senior Minyan (with Ben Bradstreet)
Tuesdays starting Sept 9 at 7:15 am (Christie House Library)
This is a highly participatory course for those interested in engaging in a serious conversation about faith. We will explore Christianity through theology, memoir, biography, the visual arts, and a deep study of Holy Scripture. The prerequisite for this course is a prior completion of The Divine Conspiracy Minyan. This fall we will focus on the Book of Judges parallel to the +TEC Sunday Forums.
Education for Ministry (EfM)
EfM is a four-year program featuring a year of study on each of the following: Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, and Theological Perspectives. For nine months, a group of 6 to 12 people gathers once a week with a mentor to discuss readings, reflect theologically on tradition and experience, and worship together.
- Year 1—Old Testament: focused on deepening our understanding of context, genre, history, and authorship. We get new tools for reading the Hebrew Scriptures and finding meaning.
- Year 2—New Testament: focused on context, genre, history, and authorship issues.
- Year 3—Church History: study of the deep faithfulness within the church, as well as periods of violence and abuse of power, which raises questions about the church’s identity.
- Year 4—Theological Perspectives: contemporary issues, ethics, and interfaith relationships.
Registration opens in August every year for a September start date, and we are still accepting enrollments for the 2014 incoming cohort. There is a $350 fee to participate, and scholarships are available. The time commitment is a weekly meeting of 2.5 hours, plus a couple hours a week of reading. If you are interested, email Charissa Bradstreet.
A Reflection on EfM by Charissa Bradstreet
I’m entering my fifth year as an Education for Ministry (EfM) mentor. One cohort of participants graduated this summer and a second enters their final year. We hope a new cohort is about to begin their journey. I am mindful of the blessings I have received meeting week after week with these men and women to worship, study scripture and the Christian tradition, and to explore ways of reflecting theologically on our culture, our experience, and our personal positions on important issues. We’ve sat with each other and considered our spiritual journeys and the various ways we are called to serve as ministers. We’ve engaged in vigorous conversations about what we’ve read and what we think; and we’ve learned to listen deeply to one another and to be grateful for what makes each of us unique.
When I entered the EfM program four years ago I was looking forward to academic engagement with peers at Epiphany, but I had no idea how I would be shaped and inspired by those who joined me. Each year we take about 6 weeks at the beginning to take turns telling our spiritual autobiography. Each year I have been amazed at how much more depth and texture the tellers bring to their stories about touchstone moments with God and how they have been shaped by the important events in their lives. We’ve all grown in our ability to recognize and name the activity of God around us – and I know I have received much needed care and wisdom from Robin, Mike, Clyde, Diane, Aubin, Kari, and Diana many Monday nights as we’ve taken turns sharing from the events of the past week. When EfM starts off it is hard not to notice differences – in backgrounds, in our paths to the Episcopal Church, in our theology, and even in our politics. But through the years we have learned to cherish some of those differences, realizing how at times they help us suddenly see something from a new and valuable perspective.
I think of one member’s gifts of prayer, teaching, and pursuit of understanding, and another’s identification with the prophetic voices in the Old Testament calling for justice; I think of one participant’s emergence as a woman of wisdom and faith in the midst of dark times, and of one man’s commitment to learn and have his character shaped by God. I am moved by another man’s call to love others and to be used by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are unable to come to church; I am thankful for the gentle mentorship I’ve received from a woman who can remember what it was like to question herself, but who has found a way to live with greater freedom. And I think of a woman who routinely gets so excited about what God is doing, not only in her own life, but in the lives of those around her, drawing us deeper into joy. We’ve received an education, and our ministries are getting deeper as a result. In each other’s midst, and in the company of God, we are being transformed. I am so grateful for these partners on the journey.
Advent Evening Series
Learning to Walk in the Dark
Wednesdays, December 3, 10 & 17
6–6:30 pm — Evening Prayer in the Chapel
6:30–8 pm — Potluck and Book Study in the Library
The days are growing shorter and our nights quietly creep, a little longer and a little dimmer. During this dark time of year, we will come together to discuss Barbara Brown Taylor’s latest book Learning to Walk in the Dark.
From the monster under the bed to the boogey man in the closet and the burglar in the bushes, what shady images haunt the recesses of our minds and send us scurrying for light switches and security cameras? When we never allow ourselves to sit in darkness, not to mention silence, what impact does that have on our souls and our relationship to God? Come dive into the world of darkness with us as a way of preparing yourself for the light of Christ so present at Christmas.
Leader: The Rev. Kate Wesch
August 24, 2014
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 31, 2014
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
PARISH PRAYER LIST & VESTRY NOTES
To view the prayer list and notes from the July vestry meeting, download the PDF version..