Weekly Word for January 1, 2016

December 22nd, 2015

CONSIDERATION FOR THE NEW YEAR

A REFLECTION BY THE REV. DOYT L. CONN, JR.

Dear Epiphany,

We have done what few churches in this country have done of late. We have mended our walls, fixed our windows, and created a gracious and serene place to gather to praise God. This is where we share our lives, do good works, and study the gospel. For some this would have been enough and it is a lot. It is a legacy worth passing to future generations and I think God has something more in mind for us. I think God will use us as a little church at the edge of Christendom to be a light to the Gentiles, to partner with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in step with their common vision for the Church at this time.

And here is what they are setting as the priorities:

1. Renewal of prayer through advocacy and support for the religious life.
2. Reconciliation within the church, and between religions, for the sake of peace.
3. Worship and evangelism as overflowing impulses from having experienced the love of God.

The religious life, reconciliation, sharing the love of God. This is what we seek, do, and share at Epiphany. Our building for the next 100 years is the significant thing that has positioned us to do a new thing. You recall the story of the man given ten talents in the Gospel of Luke. The master said, “be a good steward of these.” And so the man invested them wisely, as we have invested wisely in Epiphany these past seven years. The ten talents have become twenty. And to us the master says, “well done, good and faithful servant. I will now give you 10 cities to rule over, manage, and make better.”

Now I for one am not looking for 10 cities to manage, but the metaphor is apt in causing us to consider our duty as Christians and our capacity to share the Good News of Jesus. In the coming year it is my hope that we step into this consideration together. As you know, I think about Epiphany a lot. It is my job, my passion, and I love it. To my mind, four categories of consideration emerge. They are Epiphany as a seminary for learning, a sanctuary for encountering God, a house of reconciling relationships, and a neighborhood gathering place.

A seminary for learning: Dietrich Bonheoffer called every neighborhood parish to become a “little seminary.” What he meant by that was not an academic institution to accredit people for particular jobs, but a place where people would continuously study God throughout their lives and invite others to join them along the way.

+ What would Epiphany look like as a “little seminary?”

A sanctuary for encountering God: The core of what Epiphany does is praise God. This makes us different than any other organization. We exist not to “get stuff done,” but to thank God for what God has done. We believe when we set this as our highest, best good it actually does change the world for the better. Praising God looks like worship, music, art, liturgy, and prayer.

+ What would it look like if Epiphany were to be a place that more actively and fully sought to encounter God?

A house for reconciling relationships: If relationship is primary, then reconciliation is the key. So reconciliation it seems is the next, natural, logical thing to be thinking about at Epiphany. That said, reconciliation is a vast topic that embraces everything from family dynamics to racial understanding to Middle East politics, to inter-religious dialogue.

+ What does reconciliation mean for the people of Epiphany?

A neighborhood gathering place: Loving one’s neighbor is a core doctrine in Christianity. For thousands of years the church has been situated at the center of community life and served to strengthen the bonds of affection between those who live there. The church was made to build community and benefit the community beyond her walls.

+ How is Epiphany put more fully at the center of our community?

I invite you to take a little time as the New Year begins to consider Epiphany and the four questions I have outlined above. We are going to be gathering at the beginning of Lent as a church to talk about these four questions just as we gathered at the outset of the 100 Year Building Campaign. We have been blessed as a church with vitality at a time when vitality is waning in the broader church. And so the ten talents have been set in our hand. The Good News of Jesus is the message. The ground at Epiphany has been tilled and prepared. Now it gets exciting. Now we step into the grace upon grace of our God.

Finally, as we enter the New Year, please know that I pray for you every day. I give thanks to God for guiding you to the family that is Epiphany. Providence has been the guiding hand that has joined us, and for that I give thanks to God.

Happy New Year.

Doyt+

In Memory of Brooks

A message from THE REV. DOYT L. CONN, JR.

Brooks Hawkes was a veritable institution within the life of Epiphany Parish. He attended this church his entire life, and when we gathered for his funeral service a few weeks back, many of his long time church friends were here. And they did what Brooks would have done, they pitched in to help out. This included helping with the altar guild, serving at the Eucharist, and ushering. Like Brooks, his church friends know the protocol of the Eucharist, which, on Sunday morning includes an Offering. That is what ushers do… except at funerals. Well, the well-schooled ushers of Epiphany, in doing what they always do, skipped over that subtle point, and as a result Brooks Hawkes’ funeral stands, as far as I know, as the only funeral at Epiphany to have taken an Offering.

And so with the accidental Offering having happened the question became: “What do we do with this money?” Peter and Carol suggested we do something within the church to honor Brooks. And so, we have purchased 20 copies of Hour by Hour. Hour by Hour is a small, black prayer book that has the four daily offices adapted for each day of the week. Brooks took comfort in this book which a parishioner had left behind in the chapel one day. These 20 books will be located in the chapel when construction is complete so that other people who wander in to pray might use them as well. Each book will be inscribed “In memory of Brooks Hawkes.”

Please share this little article with your friends who may have been at Brooks funeral and left confused by the Offering. Let them know some lemonade was made from this accidental Offering.
Doyt+

Stewardship 2016: Thank You for Your Pledges!

Dear Epiphany,

In this season of thanks and expectation, we want to express our gratitude to all of you for your generosity during this fall’s annual Stewardship Drive. From the day Doyt launched the process with his powerful sermon to today, we have made tremendous progress toward our goal in support of the 2016 operating budget.

Thanks to those who reached out to the congregation through thoughtful letters (Valerie Conn, Tim Hill, Dick Nelson, Jonathan Roberts, and Billy Rosewarne) and through inspiring witness messages (Jamie Balducci and Jim MacLean). And a huge thank you to all who have pledged your support for 2016, ensuring the financial health of Epiphany Parish, our spiritual home.

To date, an impressive 81% of the parish has made a pledge. As you know, our hope and prayer is to reach 100% participation before Christmas. If you have not yet had the opportunity to add your support, we encourage you to do so. You may contact Chinn Eap in the Parish Office (206-324-2573) or pledge online.

Again, thank you for your generosity. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to lead this year’s stewardship ministry.

With deep gratitude,
Brad Neary & Sterling Stiff
Co-Chairs, Stewardship

Parish Prayer List

Click here to download this week’s prayer list.

Sunday Lectionary Corner

December 27, 2015 
Second Sunday after Christmas
Jeremiah 31:7-14
Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a
Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
or Luke 2:41-52
or Matthew 2:1-12
Psalm 84 or 84:1-8

Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany

Click here to view the calendar on the website.

This Week at Epiphany

January 3: Worship Times
Our regular Sunday Holy Eucharist services will resume on January 3 in the Great Hall: 7:30, 8:45, and 11 am and 5 pm. Nursery care will be available for the 8:45 and 11 am services. No Sunday school or formation hour programming—these will resume January 10.

January 6: Epiphany Holy Eucharist
Join us for a Holy Eucharist service with a soloist in the Great Hall at 7 pm. No reception. No childcare available.

Upcoming Events

January 10: Adult Forum – Liturgical Year
Sunday worship is more than a time to gather with people we know and love to hear sermons and music and be fed at the communion table. It is a spiritual exercise that changes us over time. Come join Doyt for conversation about how this whole system works.

January 16: Speaking of Dying
Speaking of Dying is a short film dedicated to the idea that we can all have a better death and designed to empower viewers to speak about end-of-life issues before there is a crisis. Join producer Trudy Jones to discuss this important film and its implicationsin the Great Hall at 1 pm. Free and open to the public. Click here to read more and watch an endorsement from Bishop Rickel.

January 17: a Pilgrim’s Report from El Camino
Back by popular demand! Holly Boone went to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago this fall and will present pictures and share about her trip. Join her after the 5 pm service in the Great Hall for a repeat/extension of her December forum presentation. Click here for more info.

January 31: Save the Date for Our Annual Meeting
Save the date to gather as a parish to vote on nominees for the Vestry, Nominating Commitee, and Convention. More information to come!