The Foundation of Things
As some of you may have noticed, the white house across from the duck pond, just across 38th Ave. from the church, is for sale. The sons of Mrs. Jewel Thompson have put it on the market. They were playmates of Elmer Christie’s children, and she was a friend of Father Christie. Mrs. Thompson’s eldest son, Candace, came over to the church the first day the house was on the market and recounted for me a promise his mother had made to Father Christie: that Epiphany would have the right of first refusal on the house. And so the Vestry and the Finance Committee, as well as some of our active lawyers and real estate leaders, went to work with enthusiasm and hope. In the end however, it just doesn’t make sense financially for us to invest in this piece of real estate.
Indeed an argument was made that carrying a financial loss for a time was worth doing so in order to pass onto the future Epiphany a significant benefit. That is a point I can fully appreciate. And yet in the end, I found that I was captive to the tyranny of the present at the (potential) expense of the future. As one Vestry person put it, “You were too caught up in yearly tuition to put money into the 529 account.” True.
The gift to me and to the Vestry then has been to ask the questions: How do we think about the long-term health and vitality of Epiphany, and how does the long-term vision of our institution feed the current day mandate to form Christians in a way that magnifies souls and glorifies God? The exercise we started at our Vestry meeting last night was to ask a series of questions:
What might Epiphany be like in 5 years?
What might Epiphany be like in 25 years?
In 25 years, what at Epiphany will be the same?
What might Epiphany be like in 500 years?
In 500 years, what at Epiphany will be the same?
500 years! To some that might sound absurd. Really, who can think that far out, and how is that exercise even helpful in orienting our common life today? The question however has provoked an interesting thought exercise.
First, do you believe that Epiphany will be here in 500 years? If yes, why? If no, why? There is certainly precedent for 500-year-old plus churches incidentally, but will there be any in Seattle? Will there even be one? Could it be Epiphany?
Second, if Epiphany were here in 500 years what things would remain the same? This is a question that gets to the core of who we are and what we do. One vestry member reminded us that our liturgy itself is an in-kind copy, if you will, of the ancient liturgy of the Hebrews. Even the vestments designed by Moses in the book of Leviticus resemble what Episcopal priests wear today. To look forward 500 years requires looking backward to see what has endured and then to ask: Why has it endured? The role of religion is to call humanity to its best self. This happens by: a) not putting ourselves at the center of the world. Worship is the practice of getting us outside ourselves; b) participating in spiritual exercises that are formative over time; c) studying, talking, and thinking about God; d) living our lives as Jesus would if he were you or me; and e) doing this all in the crucible of life- long relationships. What has happened in the church that has facilitated these five things? That is the list we should be looking at if we want to see what Epiphany in 500 years will look like.
Third, how might we act differently today, if we believed with all our hearts that Epiphany will be sturdy and going strong in 500 years? What will this say about what we believe to be true about God?
And so, the conversation over Mrs. Thompson’s house has moved the Vestry to wonder about the long-term reality of our parish. Here is the primary insight that came to me after our first Vestry conversation on Epiphany as a 500-year parish: If we know the rock upon which our longevity is built and we attach firmly to it, then with great confidence we can take on whatever we feel called to take on in this present age. If our future is certain, we can be world changers in the moment. In other words, more simply put, when fear of survival is banished the power of love has room to flourish. And it is love that changes the world. It is love that we are called to share.
Goldilocks knew a thing or two about what ‘just right’ means. The porridge wasn’t too hot nor was it too cold; the Bear chair was neither too big nor too small; and the bed, she proclaimed as she was falling to sleep, was just right – neither too hard nor too soft. Goldilocks knew about the importance of balance – if the porridge was too hot, it would burn her tongue; if the bed was too soft, she wouldn’t be able to take a good nap and if the chair was too small, she wouldn’t be able to sit in it.
God created our earthly environment to be ‘just right’ for humanity to flourish. But, every day, we see evidence that the delicate balance between just right and not quite right is tilting towards the latter.
What does this mean for Christians?
In the 2017 fall Season of Learning, the adult formation at the Everybody Hour, will explore our stewardship responsibility for God’s creation. On September 17th, our fellow congregant, Judy Mayotte will kick off a five-part series on creation stewardship and will unfold the depths of the Genesis story. Judy will draw from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical on climate change (summaries of Laudato Si will be provided, but for those who want the full text, please click here.
Judy’s Christian faith has been a faith in practice. Through purpose and determination, Judy has become an internationally-recognized humanitarian who has spent her life working to affect positive change for refugees and others. She is an author, a professor, an Emmy-Award television producer and a former nun. In 1989, she received a MacArthur Foundation grant to research refugee camps in Cambodia, Thailand, Eritrea, Sudan and Pakistan. Her research produced the book Displaced People? The Plight of Refugees which has become a must-read for anyone doing studies on the refugee crisis. During this period, she served as Special Advisor on refugee issues at the Department of State in the first Clinton administration and as Senior Fellow of the Refugee Policy Group in Washington. In 2010, Judy was named the first Desmond Tutu Distinguished Chair in Global Understanding of the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea.
Epiphany is truly blessed to have Judy as a congregant and as the introductory presenter for this Season of Learning. Judy will walk us through the Genesis story and how humanity’s disregard of God’s creation has impacted our environment especially on the poor and the displaced. Judy will engage us in dialog and challenge us to take actions as Christians living up to our stewardship responsibility.
Download a PDF of our At A Glance Adult Forum Schedule here.
A Verger’s Voice
Would you feel welcome in a church where you had never been if no one said a word to you when you arrived? What if there was just a pile of bulletins on a table, or worse yet, nothing at all? It has happened to me, and it was not a warm experience. I am thankful we have a vibrant, dedicated group of ushers who work very hard to ensure this doesn’t happen at Epiphany. Ushers are a vital, important ministry. They are a ministry of welcome. Ushers are the folks who pass out the bulletins, answer questions, open the doors to the nave, help with the collection, and guide the congregation during communion.
We have wonderful, dedicated ushers, and we would like to add more people to this ministry! Training is quick and on the job, and there is always someone to guide you if needed. Why might you consider ushering? There are several reasons, and the reasons may be different for each person. In Doyt’s sermon last Sunday he spoke of two people who are at the gym doing the same exercise, but for different reasons. This is true of ushering as well. The following is just a partial list of spiritual exercises that might be practiced through ushering.
1) Service – Being an usher is a discipline of service. You are serving God as you serve God’s people by being a hospitable presence.
2) Celebration – Ushering is a joyful ministry. You greet people as they enter our sacred space. Some you will know, some you won’t. What a wonderful way to get to know more people!
3) Hospitality – You will be guiding people who may not know our campus or liturgy as well as you do.
4) Obedience – There is a set of guidelines for ushering. They are not too demanding, but they do require attention to detail.
5) Worship – Ushering helps others to worship, and still allows ushers to worship while serving.
6) Evangelism – While ushering, you may be asked to share your thoughts about Epiphany and being an Episcopalian.
You may have other reasons for wanting to be an usher. All are welcome. There is no minimum or maximum age for an usher. If you are interested in ushering, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Head Usher Mike Simmons at
email@example.com. We would love to explore this ministry with you!
We will be having a brunch for ushers and prospective ushers on Saturday, October 21 at 9:00. Please rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you are coming.
Good Times at the Fall Kickoff Picnic
This past weekend was our annual Fall Kickoff Picnic. What an amazing event it was! Catered by Terresa Davis and Blue Acre Seafood, the food was beyond compare! Many thanks go also to Jennifer Williams who handled an infinity of little details that help make the picnic what it is! Thanks to you, Epiphany Parish for pitching in to help bring food, set up, serve, protect the desserts from hungry children, and cleaning up afterwards!
At Epiphany, relationship is primary. It is in events like our picnic that we express that value, and we share it with all the new people who have come among us in the last year – or showed up for the first time this week! When we love one another, we are promulgating God’s love in a world that is hungry for it. It is no coincidence that in the Bible “heaven” is most frequently portrayed as a banquet table, where the people of God feast in God’s presence and in community with one another. Church is where we practice life in the Kingdom of God. This week – we nailed it!
THIS SUNDAY EVENING
Roots of Romanticism
Byron Schenkman, Piano
September 17 at 6:15 pm in the Chapel
Concert pianist Byron Schenkman presents an evening of exquisite piano masterpieces that are sure to capture the audience.
Mozart Sonata in F Major, K. 332/330k
Szymanowska Nocturne in B-flat Major
Schubert Three Pieces, opus posthumous, D. 946
This performance is made possible by the generous financial support of the Epiphany Seattle Music Guild. As a result, this concert is presented without charge.
Have you checked us out on the web? Like our new Facebook
Follow us for weekly updates, get to know the music staff and volunteers, and help us spread the good news to Seattle and the world, that, “Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you have a place at Epiphany”.
Invest in Youth
Invest in Youth (https://www.investinyouth.org/) is a program that seeks to provide targeted academic assistance for children who are in danger of being left behind. It requires a commitment of only one or two hours per week during the school year (or less if you choose to serve as a substitute!). Thanks to volunteers like Candace Lancaster and Caroline Briggs, Epiphany has been represented in the Invest in Youth program at our local school, Madrona Elementary, for several years. This year, tutors for Madrona Elementary will serve on Tuesday afternoons, beginning with training on October 10th. Tutors are well-trained and well-supported in their efforts. If this is a way you might like to serve our neighbors, please click on the “Make a Difference” (https://www.investinyouth.org/volunteer) button on the Invest in Youth (https://www.investinyouth.org/) web-site or speak to Candace, Caroline, Todd or Doyt about their experiences last year.
September 24 at 6 pm
Meet new people while learning more about Epiphany Parish and all that it has to offer. Join us at The Rev. Doyt Conn’s house for conversation, refreshments, and a sense of community. RSVP Todd at email@example.com.
… Epiphany is selling 100% cotton, adjustable hats for $20. and handy tote bags for $5. Come by the office between 9 am to 4 pm during the week. Also available at the First Sunday Brunch, October 1 at 10 am.
SAVE THE DATE!
Saint Francis Day
Saturday, October 7 at 10 am in the Great Hall
Pet Blessing | Pet & People Treats | Dog Washing Station
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Click here to view Prayer List.