Wealth: The Tool, Not the Task
a reflection by Jonathan Roberts
I’ve thought a lot about wealth—how to get it, how to get more of it, how to show or not show it, how to spend it, and finally, how to think less about it and stop focusing so much on it. Perhaps I’m not alone. To put it into some perspective, I ended up being drawn to a seemingly unrelated topic: joy. Stay with me.
Joy is the unexpected feeling that comes upon you in moments of connection. Connection with a baby you pick up, an old friend you chance upon on the street, the touch of your spouse’s hand after an argument, or the glimpse of the eagles sitting on the traffic light over 520 during your morning commute. You know joy when you feel it. It is something that always happens in relationship. It’s quite different than happiness that can be solitary and, at times, even narcissistic. In contrast, joy has a clarity and connectedness that is always positive.
Why does this happen? It seems that the energy underlying joy is love, and love is what connects us to one another in genuine relationships. As C.S. Lewis describes in The Four Loves, there are many different types of Love. Storge is the affection you feel towards a baby, or a puppy for that matter. Philae is the love you feel for your old friend. Eros is what you feel towards your spouse, along with storge and philae. And finally, agape, or God love, is the reflected love of God you see in nature and its many representations. The Christian view is that the first three loves are most fully experienced when they pass through agape, otherwise they become a thing in and of themselves—a false god, if you will.
In sum, joy is a byproduct of love and relationships. It’s an indicator that you are connected. Joy is a good thing. Being in relationships that are based on love in all of its forms mediated through God’s Love seems to be one of the main things we should doing.
I know this feels pretty far afield from wealth. The question is, in the context of relationship and joy, how does wealth impact relationships? My first observation is that wealth can be a remarkably good thing. It is what allows you to have people over for dinner. It allows you to give someone a ride or to take a friend of your child on a trip. It enables you to support a good cause that allows others to experience relationships, essential relationships if it is something like the Diocese of Jerusalem where lives are being saved. The use of wealth in this way borders on grace. The other side of the continuum is that wealth can also isolate you. The result of more and more wealth pulls you away from relationships. It allows you to fly solo and not be rooted in relationships. You are in your own room, your own home or homes, your own car, or even your own plane. At some point, wealth that started off as a very good thing that enabled relationships tips and becomes something that isolates you from relationships.
I am writing this sitting upright on an international flight. This means that I didn’t flip for the big dollars to be in First Class so I could be lying down. There is a pride-based temptation to look down on the folks in the section behind me—I have extended leg room after all—and scorn those above me. That’s always the way. I recognize that people who ride the bus could scorn those who pass by in their cars just like those who fly commercial can shake their heads at those who have their own jets. We all have our dividing lines, rationalizations, and judgments.
But what I need to focus on are my relationships. My gauge needs to be “When am I in relationship, and when am I being pulled from it? Is wealth and my use of it enabling genuine connection in all of its forms for me and others, or is it pulling me away from it? Is my resentment of other peoples’ wealth isolating me from relationship with them or triggering my own pride?” If joy is the by-product of relationship based on love, I suspect envy is one of the indicators of disconnection from relationships.
So, when it comes to wealth, I’m not sure that wealth is the question. I think the better question or focus really is, “How can I be in relationship?” Wealth enables it and can pull us away from it. Wealth is not the thing. Wealth is just a tool, and relationship is the task.
You Are Invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at Epiphany
Are you dreading all the work of cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner for a small family? Thinking of not even going to go to the trouble to celebrate Thanksgiving? Making reservations for two at a Chinese restaurant? Planning to turn on the TV and watch a football game that you don’t even care about?
Then join your Epiphany family as we celebrate Thanksgiving together in the Great Hall with all the trimmings! Terry Carlisle will be cooking the turkeys. All we are asking is that you bring a dish to share and perhaps a game to play. We will come together at 2 pm to give thanks to God with a shared Thanksgiving meal at 3 pm. Please contact Diane to let us know how many people are coming, and what you will be bringing to the potluck.
And don’t forget to join us for Thanksgiving Eucharist at that morning at 9 am!
Gearing Up for the Christmas Pageant
New, Improved, and Earlier
Thursday, December 24 at 4 pm (Great Hall)
This year’s Christmas Pageant will be a little different. We’ll be holding it in the Great Hall, and we have a new pageant script that includes speaking parts!
You can still expect the costumes, singing, and participation for ALL children. It may only be the beginning of November, but we wanted to get you thinking about getting your child involved.
We need children and youth to act in the pageant. The only requirements are a strong voice, enthusiasm, and the availability to practice together during Formation Hours (10 am) for the month of December. There will also be a rehearsal on December 20 after the 11 am service.
We also can always use adult support with the preparation of sets, costumes, and actors, plus crowd control during the pageant.
Please contact Elizabeth Walker if your child would like to participate or if you have questions.
With anticipation and excitement,
Laura Sargent, Youth Group Convener
Kathea Yarnell, Music Associate for Choristers
Elizabeth Walker, Children’s Ministry Convener
Trinity Thrift Store Is Taking Donations
Trinity Episcopal Church, in partnership with Seattle First Baptist Church, operates a thrift store out of their downtown building that benefits the vulnerable populations of Seattle. As we head into winter, they are in need of basic items like socks, jackets, and blankets. Find more information here.
An Update from the Building Team
The Building Team would like to advise everyone about work that will happen on campus this weekend. Crews will work Friday afternoon and Saturday to apply the finish stains to the new floor in the Church balcony. Unfortunately, those materials have a strong odor which will not dissipate completely before Sunday morning.
This may present a challenge for those who pass through the Church on their way to the Great Hall. The Church will be safe, but it might be less than pleasant for folks who are sensitive to such aromas. For this reason we recommend that only people who need a stair-free path to the Great Hall use the path through the Church this Sunday.
Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience.
The Next 100 Years Building Team
Ed Emerson, Laura Blackmore, Bob Barnes, Jim Marlow, Ben Bradstreet
Contact the Building Team at email@example.com.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
November 15, 2015
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
1 Samuel 1:4–20
Hebrews 10:11–14, 19–25
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
November 15: INGATHERING Sunday
We will conclude our stewardship season by bringing our pledge cards and prayers to the altar as an act of gratitude for God’s work in this place. You are encouraged to mail in your pledge cards or pledge online beforehand. We will have duplicate pledge cards and “I already pledged” cards available. Read more about it here.
November 15: Adult Forum – Who Needs a Priest Anyway?
The central section of the Book of Hebrews is focused on the theme of Jesus as our great high priest. Jesus’s priesthood offers one definitive sacrifice for all time and offers us a mediator who always lives to intercede for us. What does this mean to us today and how does it impact our activities at church including the rituals we practice and the priests who lead them? Join Steve Clemons at 10 am in the Fireside Room.
November 20: Memorial Service for Anne Hofius
Celebrate the life of long-time parishioner Anne Hofius with the Epiphany family at 11 am in the Great Hall.
November 20–22: Annual Men’s Retreat
All the men at Epiphany are invited to the annual retreat at St. Andrew’s Retreat Center on the Hood Canal. This year’s retreat will be facilitated by Steve Donaldson of the Ignatian Spirituality Center. Contact Dave Walker to sign up.
November 21: YWCA Apartment Clean-Up
A group from Epiphany regularly cleans up and decorates apartments at YWCA’s transitional housing facility to prepare them for new families moving in. If you would like to be a part of this important ministry, contact Ann Beck to get on the volunteer list for times and locations.
Events Down the Road
November 22: Adult Forum – Understanding Rather Than Believing
Our Bible is the foundation of our faith, and there is a lot to know about it. How do we create a foundation of understanding rather than a constrictive belief system? Join the Rev. Peter Snow in the Christie House Library at 10 am for a discussion of how to study the Bible.
November 22: Thanksgiving Meal Drive Assembly and Delivery Day
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Fireside Room will be set aside during Formation Hour (10-10:45 am) for Thanksgiving Drive teams to assemble their meal ingredients in laundry baskets for families at the YWCA. The meal baskets will be delivered that afternoon. We are up to 31 meals–only 4 more to go to reach our goal of 35! Learn more about the drive here.
November 22: Newcomers’ Reception
If you’re relatively new to Epiphany and would like to spend some time getting to know our rector and other leaders of the parish, join us for a reception at the Conn Residence at 6 pm. Beverages and appetizers will be served. RSVP here.
November 26 & 27: OFFICE CLOSED
In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Parish Office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day until Sunday, November 29.