God on Trial at St. Lukes
When I was in sixth grade I had two Sunday school teachers, Dan Burnt and Mike Clampy. They were lawyers in a church full of doctors; you recall I grew up in the shadow of the Mayo Clinic. They were young with young children, and they had this love of God and way of talking about God that was so different than what I experienced with my parents. I’m not sure how Sunday school was organized at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, Minnesota. All I know is that I went every Sunday, and that sixth grade was the year that we put God on trial. Yup. That was the year that the sixth grade class was broken into two teams: the team that prosecuted God and the team that defended God. I was placed on the prosecutorial team. It was our job to prove that God, and the very idea of God, was false, silly, and a distraction away from the better impulses of humanity. My archrival (not really, we were good friends who had grown up in the church) across the aisle was Paul Mayberry. He was the lead for the defense team. And so, for many weeks we would gather Sunday morning in our teams doing research, mapping strategy, planning rebuttals, and setting the course for winning the case. Finally the day of the trial came. Judge Kreiger (a real judge who was a member of the church) presided. There was a jury, probably the choir. The congregation gathered in the Great Hall to watch. There was even a reporter from the Rochester Post Bulletin (probably also a church member). We prosecuted God, mostly on the platform that God is disproved by the legitimacy of science (that sort of seems funny to me now). I’m not too sure what the defense’s line of argument was, as I was nervous, and this was the age where I was particularly self-absorbed. In any event, we lost. They said it was close. I think it was rigged. I mean. come on, it was a “hostile” environment for the prosecution.
But here is the point: Mike Clampy and Dan Burnt made a huge impact on my life. I imagine sixth grade Sunday school attendance was higher than it had ever been. The congregation knew what we were doing and would ask us how it was going at coffee hour. This Sunday school event captured my imagination, and I might be so bold as to say it set me on a path of exploration, or shall I say seeking God, which continues to this very day.
This is an example of how community can be alive in the formation of young people. It is an example of how real world work can be applied in a theological context. The Holy Spirit is alive at Epiphany right now pushing us toward community; toward inter-generational friendships; toward invitation, inclusion, and sharing. Church is utterly unique in its capacity to bring people from different ages, backgrounds, and contexts together to recognize, own, and seek God.
My question is: where does God meet the work you do or the way you live? How might you share that with young people at Epiphany?
Starting in the fall, we are moving all Christian formation to the 10 am hour: adult formation and Sunday School for children and youth of all ages. The hope is that this will become the time when the entire community gathers for spiritual formation in classes for adults and children. There is much that went into the planning of this new, unified 10 am spiritual formation hour, and there are many reasons the formation team feels it is a good idea.
But for me, one of my deepest hopes is that Mike Clampy and Dan Burnt show up. Not physically, but rather in you. When Sunday School doesn’t overlap with church, I hope that many of you will consider leading a Sunday School session for our children or youth where you share your passion for God and the expertise you have picked up along the way. I hope that you will share the passions of your life and your pursuit of God with young people in this church. And, know this, if you feel this call but aren’t sure how it will play out, find me, and we’ll figure it out together over the summer.
As we get into summer and closer to the fall, you will be hearing more about this change on Sundays, as well as other plans we have for regular parish-wide fellowship and inter-generational community.
Let’s Walk Together to Canterbury
When was the last time the Holy Spirit asked you to do something crazy?
For me, the answer to that question is December 13, 2007. I was in a period of life where I felt rudderless. I had a sense that although I had accomplished a lot of what I felt I should accomplish in life, I still didn’t yet know what I wanted to accomplish. At a particularly challenging moment I started to feel something within me that I now know was the Holy Spirit pushing me in a new direction.
I think the Holy Spirit is like that—that little tug or push you feel sometimes: that thought that won’t go away and keeps coming back.
What I heard was it was time to go on a long walking pilgrimage. I imagine the Holy Spirit used all the reading I had done over the prior three years on the origin of the Gothic cathedral style. I learned that a primary usage of the buildings of that era was to make room for pilgrims to circulate around the relic displays, and my interest forked into learning about the practices of medieval pilgrims.
Filled with enthusiasm, I shared my plan with a wise person. I was going to do the 1,000-mile version of the Camino de Santiago starting not with the wimps at the French/Spanish border, but further back in the heart of France. The wise person said, “Why don’t you try something a little shorter?”
I listened to the wise person and soon found the perfect pilgrimage: I would follow the North Downs Way 131 miles from Farnham to Dover via Canterbury and follow in the steps of Chaucer’s characters.
Since I had no experience at all in trail-walking and was carrying around a little extra weight, I was motivated to do a lot of training over the next 10 months. The whole process evolved, and I found myself reading, planning, and experimenting with terrain and equipment. During this time I developed a walking prayer and meditation habit I still follow today.
I became deathly afraid of blisters because of some of the diaries I read about pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. I felt I could deal with a lot of issues, but that blisters would cripple me and stop me in my tracks.
In fact, I did face many challenges on the trail. I got lost twice. More than once I broke down in tears, wishing I were done with the entire project.
What I wanted in return for all that was an experience of the real presence of God. I wanted to be at the intersection of heaven and earth where God would speak to me and transform my life and change me once and forever. What I got instead was so much better. In the afternoon of the day I was to end at the old pilgrim’s lodge at the edge of the Close of Canterbury Cathedral, I was making good time and passed through an old apple orchard called No Man’s Orchard. It was filled with old trees that came in all sorts of legacy apple varieties. In the woods just past that orchard I had a strong sense of the presence of the God with me, and I heard God speak to me. I was told to keep coming back and keep pursuing a life of pilgrimage. I heard that more would be revealed and the beautiful grace that I was feeling was just the beginning. And I was to strive to do more for the people around me so that I would be better prepared to feel and experience more next time and the times after that.
That experience changed my life, and I have returned to England several times and finished my fifth National Trail last year. I still think of that moment walking through that orchard as a key pivot in my spiritual life that eventually led us to Epiphany.
I recently felt that tug of the Holy Spirit again, and this time I felt called to offer up this experience to our parish community. What I propose is a similar pilgrim walk for a small group that wants to prepare, train, and walk together. We will start at Winchester Cathedral at Evensong and end at Canterbury Cathedral at Evensong. In between will be days filled with a magical rhythm of steps, terrain, open country, wildlife, old churches active and abandoned, and, I expect, experiences that will help us move along on our spiritual journey.
This pilgrimage will be designed to be challenging, yet comfortable. We will stay in nice B&Bs with soft beds and have great warm pub meals in front of fireplaces and big full English breakfasts.
I propose that the group decide on a two-week window sometime in the spring of 2017. If you think you might want to be part of this group, then I invite you to an information session between services at 10am on June 26 in the Great Hall. All with any degree of curiosity are encouraged to attend. In the mean time you can get a small taste at the National Trails website and the Pilgrim’s Way website.
Celebrate the Foster Family and Todd’s Ordination
Foster Family Bagel Brunch
Todd our new curate has started work, but his family—Becky, Aviva, and Elisha—will be moving to Seattle in the next week or so. Let’s welcome them to the Epiphany family with a bagel brunch between the 8:45 am and 11 am services on June 19 in the Great Hall.
The Ordination of Todd Foster
Todd Foster is now ready to be ordained into the priesthood! The parish is invited to a service of ordination at St. Mark’s Cathedral at 7 pm with a reception to follow, Bishop Rickel presiding. Your prayers and presence would be a blessing. Todd will preside at all four services on June 26.
The Summer Concert Series Is Back!
In the summer of 2014, we invited local musical acts to perform in the courtyard as an informal way to gather, enjoy good music, and play in the sun. Last summer, we couldn’t do it because of construction, but this year it’s back! Grab a picnic and join us for concerts in the courtyard!
Below are the dates and bands that will be performing.
July 1 – Scott Lindenmuth Trio (jazz, funk, fusion)
July 8 – Brass Band Northwest (brass, brass, and more brass)
July 15 – Your Favorite Friend (alt-folk/bluegrass)
July 22 – The Onlies (bluegrass)
July 29 – DAD (rock)
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
June 12, 2016
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 11:26–12:10,13-15
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
June 12: Senior Sunday
At the 11 am service, we will be honoring five graduating seniors who have been involved at Epiphany Parish over the years. Join us in praying for their future endeavors and wishing them well. A reception will follow in the Great Hall after the morning services.
June 12: Prayer for the Sweeny-Benders
Diana, Louis, and Tieran are leaving on the 13th for a trip around the world, and they would like to say goodbye to and also receive prayer from the Epiphany family. Join them in the Church Chancel after the 11 am service.
June 19: Welcome the Foster Family Bagel Brunch
Let’s welcome the Foster family—Todd our new curate, Becky, Aviva, and Elisha—into the Epiphany family with a bagel brunch at 10 am in the Great Hall.
June 21: Ordination of Todd Foster
Having been a transitional Deacon in the Episcopal Church and called to Epiphany as a Curate, Todd Foster is now ready to be ordained into the priesthood. The parish is invited to a service of ordination at St. Mark’s Cathedral at 7 pm with a reception to follow. Your prayers and presence would be a blessing.
June 26: Information Session for a Pilgrimage in England
George Moberly would like to lead a pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury in England some time in the spring of 2017. If you think you might be interested in a trip like that, come to the Great Hall at 10 am for an information session. You can also read more about his idea and his previous experiences here.
June 29: EfM Information Session
If you have ever thought about participating in Education for Ministry (EfM), please come to an information session in the Christie House Library at 6 pm to find out more about how four years of study in scripture, theology, and church history can enrich your life and faith. EfM begins on September 12. If you have questions, please contact Robin Mondares.
July 1: Summer Concert Series – Scott Lindenmuth Trio
We’re kicking off this year’s summer concert series with a jazz trio led by Scott Lindenmuth, described as a “genre-crossing guitar virtuoso.” Bring a picnic and enjoy some sun and some music in the courtyard at 6:30 pm on Friday evenings in July.
July 5: Vacation Bible Camp Begins
Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at Epiphany is a place for all ages to experience God’s love in a safe and welcoming environment. Activities include Bible storytelling, crafts, games, chapel, music, and service on the theme of “Taste and See: God Is Good.” Find registration information and volunteer opportunities at epiphanyseattle.org/vbc.