ASKING THE GOOD QUESTION
A good question is more powerful than a good answer. I’ll give you an example. When I think about my relationship with my wife and how I can be a better husband, answers that come to mind might include: remembering our anniversary, buying her flowers on a regular basis, getting the car washed without prompting, or making sure I fill the dishwasher the right way. Those are answers, and they aren’t bad ones, if I say so myself. The alternative (not that they are mutually exclusive) is that I can ask a good question like, “How can I show you I love you more?” A good question does two things: 1) it deepens relationship, and 2) it lets the context be set by the other person. Hearing how to be a better husband from my wife’s point of view is to be the husband that she needs me to be based on the context from which she views the world. Of course the same principle of the good question applies to bosses and employees, parents and children, and friends and neighbors to each other.
Christianity is built on the good question. Christianity posits that God loves us so much that God accepted our context, and let the relationship be set by our terms. Jesus, God incarnate, came to show us God’s love in a way that we can understand, and furthermore, in a manner that allows us to exercise our own free will. Jesus didn’t come to solve the world’s problems. Jesus came to ask the good question: “How can I show you I love you more?” That is a powerful question that Jesus continues to ask each one of us.
Take a moment to ask yourself: “How can God show me he loves me more?” Put another way, what in the world would convince me God loves me?
Often when I pose such a question, I hear back, “I have asked, and God has ignored.” “I have proposed, and God has denied.” “I have requested, and God has rejected.” If that has been the case in your life or if there has been a time when you have asked and God didn’t seem to answer, then I might press the question further by wondering with you if “No” is really God’s answer. Or is it that you didn’t hear the answer you wanted God to give? Sometimes, at least for me, the presenting problem isn’t really the problem, and God seems to be able to tell the difference.
So, going back to the husband and wife analogy for an illustration. I have heard it said, “I’ve done everything for her. I buy her flowers. I gave her a ring. I made her my specialty dinner. And still things aren’t as they should be!” To which I might reply, “All good answers. But have you asked her the question? Are you listening? Are you stepping into her context?”
That is the Christian adventure, to step into the context of our neighbor—even our closest neighbor (of which too often we assume we know the context, when we really don’t). Even after 30 or 40 years together in relationship, a good question is more powerful than a good answer. A good question demands our giving up place, position, power, and comfort to wander into another person’s point of view. The challenge is to do so without letting another’s story be your story; without letting another’s needs, wants, wishes, anxieties, dysfunctions, or even successes be adopted as your own.
Let me explain. To be in another person’s context is to deeply hear and understand without giving away the freedom to act as you so choose. There are circumstances where what someone might want is not good for them or good for us. To see their request from their point of view, even when it is a request not necessarily in their own best interest, allows for empathy to arise, irrespective of actions taken. Jesus found himself in similar situations. For example, he was asked to be the Messiah in a way that would galvanize Jewish power and throw off the yoke of Rome. Jesus walked with people oppressed, discriminated against, marginalized, and demeaned. They asked for his power to be expressed in a worldly way, and he empathized but resisted, because the gift of love he sought to share was bigger than the people of his world could comprehend from their particular context. Sometimes we may find ourselves in that situation.
Again in the story of the lepers, Jesus models stepping into someone else’s context and both responding to needs and not responding to needs while deeply empathizing with the circumstances. Jesus was able to do both things because he was able to hear the problem and discern the actual issue.
When he asked all of humankind, “How can I show you I love you?” his singular response to the cumulative context of every human being was resurrection.
In light of his response, we are liberated to step into the context of another with boldness, courage, and compassion. We can seek to understand by asking the good question and listening to the response. Then we can choose to act with the eyes of wisdom in synchronicity with our beloved’s highest hope, or despite her/his desperate request, but always with love and always with empathy.
And when this happens, souls dance together in the light of Christ, whether our beloved cares for Christ or not. And that, friends, is because Christ cares for our beloved (and us), whether our beloved believes it or not.
To ask the good question is more powerful than to give the good answer. This summer I invite you to consider the questions you ask.
GET INVOLVED WITH INITIATIVE 594
Expansion of Background Checks for Gun Purchases
Some weeks ago I attended a luncheon to gather support for Initiative 594 which will seek to expand background checks at gun sales and purchases. Like so many of you I have become more and more dismayed at the tide of gun violence and mounting deaths. Some 10,000 people die of gunshot wounds each year. A further 15,000 use a gun to commit suicide. America has the highest incidence of gun violence of any country not at war in the entire world. We can do better than that.
I intend to gather those of you who are also concerned and discuss what we may do to support this initiative. This is not political. There are as many Democrats as Republicans who are concerned about this issue. Let’s join together and consider the impact we can have. If you would like to help me organize such an effort, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more at Faith Action Network.
—Fr. Peter Snow
AN UPDATE FROM THE BUILDING TEAM
As the Building Team continues to refine the design of the project, we are consulting with a variety of folks. Notable meetings this week are Matt Martenson, from Berger Partnership, for the grounds; and Jill Cody for interior and exterior lighting. Both elements are progressing as expected. We also want to remind everyone that we meet on Fridays at 8 AM, and that those meetings are open to the public.
The Next 100 Years Building Team
Ed Emerson, Laura Blackmore, Bob Barnes, Jim Marlow Ben Bradstreet
Contact the Building Team at email@example.com.
DOYT’S REMARKS ON THE JUNE 23RD BUILDING UPDATE
I am writing to follow up on Ben Bradstreet’s Building Team Update from the last Weekly Word. In it Ben let us know that our starting date for the construction project was being moved to the beginning of January 2015 and clearly outlined the reasons why. They begin with a longer permit approval process than we anticipated, but also include the need to secure our Guaranteed Maximum Construction Cost before we swing the first hammer. This will insure that we will be putting first things first in the allocation of resources toward the goals set with the congregation in this campaign. To my mind the delay is the work of the Holy Spirit, partnering with us in the most beautiful way, for the benefit of Epiphany as a spiritual sanctuary for the Next 100 Years.
The construction team is a most remarkable group of people, and I give thanks to God for their efforts, expertise, and hard work. They hold all of us in their hearts as they make decisions for our common good and for people yet to come to Epiphany. Please hold them in your prayers. There are a thousand (or maybe ten thousand) little details they have to attend to, considering both the practical and the aesthetic. As I have said many times, I believe we will love almost all of what is done in the restoration and renewal of our campus. Having said that, some of the changes will take longer to get used to than others, and there may even be a few changes that we never get used to. I am sure that will be the case for me. And yet, our work here is for the glory of God. This is our spiritual gym where we practice living our lives as Jesus would if he were you or me. It is where we seek the soundness of our souls for the sake of our own lives, but also for the salvation of the world. It is where we gather as the body of Christ to give thanks to God. I am sure that what we find when the last nail is struck and the last paint stroke dried is that Epiphany Parish will be a place where all of this can continue to happen in a beautiful way, for a long, long time. I am grateful to all of you for your generosity and commitment to Epiphany.
SAY FAREWELL TO MELANIE BARKER
As many of you have heard, my time as Hospitality Coordinator at Epiphany is coming to a close. As of July 6th, I will be moving to my new house in Montlake, but I will continue to host Coffee Hour till the end of July.
My five years at Epiphany have truly been a wonderful experience. I want to thank all of you for making Epiphany the warm, inviting place that it is. I have experienced so much kindness, generosity, and joyfulness here. Many of you have become my dear friends and others have reached out to me on a regular basis to connect and encourage me in my work. This is a vibrant community and a very special place. I think what I will remember most is the feeling of being surrounded by so many unique, interesting, and caring people. My favorite part of this work was all the wonderful kitchen conversations when some of you would drop to say “hello” or to lend a helping hand.
It was a difficult decision to leave my role here. I have a unique opportunity to live in a community house with several of my friends. I have always wanted to share life with others in that way. Although the gardens at Epiphany are beautiful, I have also missed having my own vegetable garden. These are some of the joys I am looking forward to with this change.
I hope to continue to be a part of Epiphany and of your lives. Epiphany has been my home in much more than a physical sense. Thank you all for being a part of this amazing community.
Be sure to visit Melanie in the kitchen on Sunday mornings to say farewell! Her last Sunday will be July 27.
EVER THOUGHT ABOUT USHERING?
What is it like to be an usher at Epiphany?
It has been said that the ushers are the “ground crew” at church services. But at Epiphany, ushering is more than that. It’s like dancing!
The ushers are a hospitable group who enjoy greeting folks at the door every Sunday. Their ability to create a welcoming environment for both parishioners and visitors alike sets the tone for the church service. By handing out service bulletins, the ushers are inviting you to participate with a feeling of acceptance—no matter where you are on your spiritual journey.
During the church service, the ushers create the cues for the congregation. These cues are our invitations for you to enter the dance of our congregation. When the Offertory plates are handed to you by the usher, you are asked to give to the mission of the church. The ushers will present these gifts to the altar as well as the Eucharistic elements. The next cue is the invitation to participate in the Eucharist.
As the last note of the postlude rings out, the ushers are poised to finish their duties. After that, the ushers can touch base with the folks who might need information about Epiphany. And so, the dance continues.
Would you like to be a part of this dance?
If you want to give ushering a try—even for one time only—please let me know! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great opportunity for members of the youth group who are looking for “hours” or someone who wants to be “involved-lite.”
Blessings! See you in Church!
—Trish Wallis Stone
ADDITIONAL ORGANIST FOR JULY
In our ongoing quest at Epiphany to nurture young organists in Anglican ways of worship and music, we welcome Isaac Drewes to the organ bench(es) as an intern during the month of July. Isaac is an organ major at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, one of the highest ranking schools of church music in the country.
Already a gifted player, Isaac is the son of two professional organists in the area, so his early training was excellent. In addition to sharing the playing of services, Isaac will be assisting in the music department with the necessary routine of office work.
Please welcome Isaac when you see him ‘off the organ bench’!
FREE TO GOOD HOMES!
Get your summer reading from the Fireside Room
Hardcovers, first editions, paperbacks
Stop into the Fireside Room this summer and claim some of these books as your own. Bring a bag, or just carry out an armful. Come after church or after a meeting.
We’ve organized them by category for ease of selection.
Mostly mysteries & thrillers.
Some wonderful novels.
A little non-fiction (memoirs, history, travel, cookbooks,
gardening, sport, self help)
After you’ve enjoyed the books, pass them on to another reader. Leave them on a park bench, or in one of those little libraries. Sell them at Third Place Books and donate the money to Epiphany.
Do whatever you like, but send them into the world with their “Property of Epiphany Parish Seattle” stamp on the inside. Who knows what might transpire!
Your Library volunteers,
Liz Sundem, Libby Goldstein, Ann Lockhart
ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR JULY 7, 2014
2014 Epiphany Camping Trip
August 2 & 3 at Belfair State Park
Everyone’s invited to the Epiphany Parish Camping Trip on the Hood Canal. Enjoy swimming in a warm saltwater bay, kite-flying, and excursions with your church family! Saturday dinner and a Sunday pancake breakfast will be provided.
Email Eric Artzt to RSVP and get details and directions: email@example.com
Epiphany Summer Play Dates
July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23
A chance beyond coffee hour for children and parents to gather. Join Epiphany families at the Epiphany School “Chips” Playground at 10 am for an unrushed and informal play time.
No need to RSVP; just come!
Summer Sunday School
We are currently following our Summer Sunday School Schedule. Check-in for children will begin at 10:15 am each Sunday at the EELP Playground or in the Nursery. Summer Sunday School starts at 10:30 am. Pick-up will be after church in the same location as sign-in. Our summer program’s objective is to build relationships and community among children at Epiphany through activities, including art, music, movement, education, and outreach.
Holy Eucharist at St. Paul’s
Thursday, July 10 at 7 pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lower Queen Anne
The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia invites you to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist to offer thanks for the life and gifts of St. Benedict, his Rule, and the presence of many religious in the Diocese of Olympia. A festive reception will follow in the Parish Hall. Parking is available on the street and in lots east of the parish church.
Questions? Call 206.282.0786.
Summer Backpack Drive for YWCA
September may seem far away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about back-to-school supplies! Every year, Epiphany partners with the YWCA to provide backpacks loaded with school supplies for teenagers in our neighborhood.
Starting July 21, we invite you to donate school-related items like #2 pencils, spiral notebooks, sharpeners, glue sticks, and binders.
Stay tuned for a detailed list of needed items and drop-off points!
Weekly Word Summer Schedule
July 21, August 4 & 18, September 1
Submission deadlines are Mondays two weeks prior to the issue date.
Sunday Lectionary Corner
July 13, 2014—Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 65:(1–8), 9–14
Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
July 20, 2014—Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16–19 or Isaiah 44:6–8
Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
PARISH PRAYER LIST
WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHOSE BIRTHDAYS FALL BETWEEN JULY 6 and 20: Cam Weld, Dorothy Strong, Jack Yates, Jack Kelly, Chris Martin, Mary Williams, Tom Hitt, Mary Kyle, Naraine Baker, Duncan Jacobson Barnes, Alexa Carver, Tatum Masterson, Laura Blackmore, John Caner, Kevin Mesher, Rowan Lawler, Karl Neiders, Catherine Roche, Stewart Riley, Anne Farrell, Micah Moody, and Mark Parrott.
WE PRAY FOR THOSE ON OUR CYCLE OF PRAYER: Peter & Shannon, Sam, and Jude Polson; Charles & Joanne Pope; Kathy Pope & Ed Bacco; Megan Hutcheson & Robert, Luca, and Mariella Porcarelli; and Christina Woods & James, Genevieve, and Abigail Potts. We pray for the churches of St. Hugh, Allyn, Grace & St. Barnabas (Bainbridge) and St. John (Gig Harbor). Barbara Pringle; Caroline & Bradley, Harrison, Claiborne, Eleanor, and Patience Probst; Julia Putnam; Diane Radloff; and Sallie & James, Dylan, and Caitlin Ragsdale. We pray for the churches of Faith (Kingston), St. Swithin (Forks), and St. Andrew (Port Angeles).
YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED FOR CONTINUED HEALING AND STRENGTH FOR THOSE IN OUR PARISH WHO ARE ILL OR GRIEVING: Paul, Coralie Swanson, Connie Gaines, Barbara Himmelman, Naraine Baker, Ginger, Kay Schack, Piper Simmons, Yamy Xolocotzi, Roy Enriquez, Will Gluck, Ruth, Silas, TJ Johnson & family, Bill, Susan, Debbie, Megan, Carl Putnam, George Fisher, Rosalie, Malina, Matt, Nancy, Isla Jude, Alice, Susan, Hank Schilling, Emily Coyle, Noreen, Jeanne Edwards, Sandra, Larry Mayer, Gerald Swymeler, George Harrington & family, Gary West, David Mattson, Liz Swift, Heather, Chance, & Zane Gehring, Rollie & Josie, Olivia, Ray Brownfield & family, Laura, David, Eric, Eileen Riley, Stu McGee, Chris Wolf, Lauren, Cork, Henk & Helen Simons, David, Joyce, Mark,, Amille, Fannie Lofton, Katie Putnam Kidd, Sarah Quinn, Christian, Dolores Maxson, Lauren Riker, Lynn Manley, Dorothy Hemstreet, Diane Frawert, Jani Spencer, Judy Rohrbeck, Michael Jerry, Charles Fulkerson, Liz, Karen Kershaw, Teresa Davis and family, David Olsen, Brooks Hawkes, Leonard Yerkes, Caroline Normann, friends and family of Martha, Joe Blayner, Susie Stoller, and Ginny Kitchell.
WE PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED:
Patrick Maclauchlan, Lynn Glessner, and Bonnie Hoppin.