You Always Have a Place at Epiphany
A Reflection by the Rev. Todd Foster
“Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you have a place at Epiphany.” This is one of those statements that really defines who we are and who we aspire to be. We are a neighborhood church that seeks to embrace any and every person who comes onto our campus. We are a people who reject the narrative of “us” and “them” so prevalent in the world around us. Do your language, your education, your skin color, your sexuality, your socio-economic status, your addictions differ from mine? These are not barriers. We believe that we are linked on a deeper level: we are all beloved children of God, brothers and sisters (and others) seeking together to know God and be known by God. This is Good News in a fractured world.
We live in a fractured world. Busing in the public schools is passé: Jim Crow has been de-legitimized and our schools have become racially integrated: though less so today than in the 1960’s, recent studies reveal. The disparities and distance in our society continue to be significant. As Doyt pointed out last week, neighborhoods continue to display striking, even increasing, homogeneity. Homogeneous neighborhoods lead to there being “better” schools and “worse” schools. Soccer teams, dance studios, and music classes are all divided according to how much parents can pay, how skilled the young participants happen to be, and who has time (or a nanny) to shuttle the kids to their various activities.
The result of this fractured world is that our children grow up in silos of community with people just like them. Their perspective is skewed and they lack opportunity to encounter the wide variety of people whom God created. They are shielded from difficulties many people face, and also the beauty that all those different people bring into the world. Their experience (and my experience) not just of the world, but of God, is abbreviated.
Church is meant to be an answer to that. At its best, church will be both a disorienting and orienting place to bring our children (and ourselves). In church our children will find people different from themselves. Authentic “Church” has no market segmentation. Relationships will be formed for relationships’ sake, and nothing more. Relationships take thought and intention. Church is a context that invites growth and learning about God, about each other, and about ourselves. Church is probably the only institution to which we can belong for a life-time and do so with people both like us and unlike us. In a world that is pooling into more and more homogeneous puddles, church is still an ocean for all people.
But learning to swim in this ocean takes practice. A child doesn’t learn to play the violin by practicing for only one hour every month or so. Children don’t build deep, lasting and unqualified relationships without committing time and effort to the process. Weekly attendance at church helps them learn the rhythms of worship and the patterns and idiosyncrasies of children outside their normal silos. This is both good for them, and good for the world that they will live in and lead.
The work of the church is to transform every member thereof into a bearer of Good News. The world is crying out for Good News, and church is the place we learn to become people who bring that Good News to the world. We embody, in our day-to-day lives, the Good News of unity in diversity and the love of God for all people. We bear witness that all people are beloved of God, and as such, beloved of us as well. Doesn’t the world need more love right now and less division and segmentation? It is by growing in our connection with God and one another in all our amazing diversity that we will be instruments of God, bringing peace and re-connection to the world. The world needs us!
This is why the neighborhood church is the hope of the world.
Sunday, November 20, is the Ingathering at Epiphany. This is the day all parishioners make their pledge to Epiphany as an act of thanksgiving for what God has given them, and as a practical way of determining the 2017 Epiphany budget.
During the 7:30, 8:45, 11:00, and 5:00 services you will be invited to bring your pledge cards and prayers to the altar. This part of the Sunday service acts as a symbol of our practical and prayerful commitment to Epiphany.
This is what will happen: At the end of the Prayers of the People, I will invite all of you to come behind the altar and lay your pledge cards and prayers on the altar. If you have already sent in your pledge, you can write your name on a blank pledge card if you like, or just bring forward your prayer. There is a colored piece of paper in the bulletin upon which you can write a prayer or a word or a name. These will be held in confidence, placed in the Epiphany prayer box, and on April 15, they will be burned during the Easter Vigil.
Epiphany is a spiritual center of gravity that continues to attract people wherever they are on their spiritual journey. It is a place of beauty and energy that well reflects the vitality of life lived under the reign of God. Thank you for being a part of God’s plan for this community. This church was made to be a place of grace, peace, and blessing for a world hungry for these things… and these things are real and a reality for Epiphany because of your willingness to listen and live into the work of God in our midst. Thank you for your commitment.
Yours in Christ,
Second Annual 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 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? Instead, join your Epiphany family on Thanksgiving Day in the Great Hall for dinner at 2 pm 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 as early as 1 pm, and then give thanks to God with a shared Thanksgiving meal at 2 pm. Please contact the office to let us know how many people are coming, and what you will be bringing to the potluck. Diane Carlisle, 206-324-2573.
YWCA Shelter Family Christmas
Please help make the holidays brighter for families living in YWCA shelter housing. Epiphany will be helping out in two ways:
1. We will adopt 30 YWCA families, providing two presents (approx. $35 – 40 each) per child and a $50 Safeway grocery store card so they can buy and make a holiday meal. Half of these families have one child and half have two. You can adopt one or more of these families by emailing Sherilyn Peterson. (firstname.lastname@example.org) and telling her if you have a preference for one or two child families. The gifts need to be wrapped and they and the grocery card need to be delivered to church by the start of the 11 am service on Sunday December 11. You will see an Adopt-a-Family tree in church starting Thanksgiving weekend. The ornaments on that tree simply have a reminder about how to adopt a family. You do not need to take an ornament to obtain a family. Just email Sherilyn. As with the Thanksgiving baskets, if adopting a family is more than you can take on yourself, consider teaming up with one or more parishioners to adopt a family together!
2. There will also be another YWCA Giving Tree at church starting Thanksgiving weekend which will have 75 ornaments on it, each one specifying a gift for a child or teenager. These gifts need to be delivered unwrapped to church by the start of the 11 am service on Sunday December 11. These gifts are for children of families that move into shelter housing so close to the holidays that they are not yet part of the Adopt-a-Family program. Case workers choose from among these gifts to give to these newer families. Please consider taking one of these ornaments and buying these gifts.
The December 11th deadline is important since it allows us to transport the gifts to the YWCA in time for them to organize and distribute the gifts.
Thank you all for your generosity. We at Epiphany are blessed in so many ways. We can share our blessings with those less fortunate.
Intergenerational Advent Workshop
The Circle of the Church Year: An Interactive Godly Play Lesson for All Ages
Date: Sunday, November 27
Time: 10 am
Location: Great Hall
Each year, the Christian people move through a circle of memory and expectation to open themselves to the elusive presence of God. All are invited (children, youth, and adults) to begin Advent and a new church year by experiencing this circle of movement through the Godly Play story “The Circle of the Church Year,” told by Candy Moser. Response time will include Godly Play materials and Advent crafts to use at home. This is an Everybody Hour not to miss!
Calling All Cooks!
We are looking for new members to join our Meals Ministry team. If you enjoy cooking and/or baking for others, we’d love to have you join our ministry. The commitment is relatively small, but the impact of bringing a meal to someone in need is large. Please email Courtney Green or call 704.685.3594 for additional details.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
November 13, 2016
Last Sunday after the Pentecost