The Changing Culture of Sunday
A reflection by the Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr.
This Weekly Word is particularly for older people; if you don’t know whether you’re old or not, read on.
There was time when the community intuitively knew that church was a place that nurtured souls. And while most individuals in the community might not have been able to articulate exactly what this meant or how it happened, they knew (just as I know eating vegetables, somehow, is good for me) that this was a good thing. There was a time when neighbors walked with neighbors to church. There was a time when children met their grandparents at church. There was a time when families gathered for dinner after church and talked about God. And there was a time when people, some people, sat in the pews and asked themselves: “Why am I here?” “What is this stuff I’m saying?” “Why am I saying it?” “Is there even a God, or a guy named Jesus?” “I’m just not feeling it.” And they said this Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, from the same pew, sitting near the same people. I know this because I have felt this way. I also know it because I have heard these stories. But, and here is the point, I hear these stories only from older parishioners who now, in wisdom, know the deep value of those “dry” years. I still go to church because they told me those stories.
Why do we only hear these stories from older parishioners? Primarily, I suspect, it is because they are the ones who lived in an era that “compelled” them to stay in church during those bleak days of unbelief. Had they not walked out the door when their neighbors walked out the door, had they not met their friends at church, or been able to talk about the sermon at Sunday dinner, they would have been gently chided. So they stayed because of communal pressure, and in staying they grew up in their souls. The bleak times, the fallow times, are very important times in the nurturing of the soul. Endurance in and through doubt is the act of waiting patiently for God. It requires the patience of a fisherman, waiting as she watches the river, just standing, staring, wondering, “Do I have the right fly?” “Is the water too warm?” “Is my casting off?” Then the day passes, and she goes home with nothing, only to go back the next day in faith. Catching trout requires standing in a brook. Experiencing God requires being in church.
Some people won’t like hearing that. They will respond with, “Wait, if God is everywhere then it stands to reason that I can find/experience/see God anywhere.” And that may be true, but it is like catching trout with your hands. With God all things are possible. But if one is intent on nurturing the soul, then one has to go to God, on God’s time, obediently standing in the stream even when the fish aren’t biting. And this is what the community used to know. This is why the community implicitly pressured people to go to church: so they could stay through the barren times, catch the fish of wisdom, and know the joy that God has implanted in each soul.
But if we leave the stream during the dry times, we will never catch fish. In other words if we leave the church in the barren times, we will stay in the barren times. It is like a child who loses a parent and never works through the grief. They are trapped at the age when the tragedy struck. It is the same with the soul. Nurturing the soul requires fallow periods. If we leave the path, paved by the wisdom of the ages, when we are not “feeling it,” then the soul will thrash around looking for fulfillment, for growth. The world in which we live is now perfectly organized to stuff our hungry souls with things, activities, challenges, accolades, and worries. This is like giving an infant diet coke instead of mother’s milk.
For us church people, the peer pressure around Sundays has changed. Now we have spouses that chide us for going to church, or friends who ask us to explain ourselves, or neighbors who invite our children to birthday parties on Sunday morning, not to mention sports to play, hikes to take, and games to watch. The culture used to pressure us to go to church; now, at least in Seattle, it pressures us to not go to church. And so, when we are not “feeling it” or when we are struggling with deep, real, existential questions, the easiest thing to do is go out for coffee or read the newspaper.
And so, to you older people, I am asking you to reach out to the younger generation who wander. Tell your story of desert times. Encourage them to patiently endure their fallow periods, so they can bloom when their soul is ready to bloom. There is nothing more compelling and beautiful than a grown-up soul, and at this time the world needs the witness of more mature souls.
A New Facilities Manager at Epiphany
I am very pleased to announce that Ben Bradstreet has accepted the job of Facilities Manager here at Epiphany. Many of you know Ben as part of the 100-Year building team. He knows this place inside and out. He knows where every CAT line is buried, and where every underground drainage pipe is laid. He knows where the sprinkler heads are set, and when they are supposed to go off. He knows the landscape vendors, our lighting consultant, the audiovisual specialists, and our carpenter. But most importantly, he knows how we need to care for this wonderful, renovated church. Ben also knows many of you, which is important for calling us together to care for our buildings and grounds.
Ben will work closely with Gieth Phou on scheduling and managing the maintenance schedules; Diane Carlisle on how the spaces are used; Elizabeth Walker in care for EELP; Alice Foreman to ensure the grounds continue to produce for altar flowers and bouquets; Chinn Eap on purchasing; and he will pull together and help direct a buildings and grounds committee for long-term planning and short-term care. If this is something you are interested in, please let Ben know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This part-time job has been carved out to relieve the burdens placed upon our business manager Chinn Eap. She will now solely focus on accounting, which has grown into to a very fulltime job in and of itself.
We are very pleased to have Ben in the role. Please join me in thanking him and supporting him in this new ministry.
St. Francis Day Celebration on October 1!
We are a funny bunch, designating a special, “bring your pet to church” day each year! Our pets are special to us and they have much to teach us about love, faithfulness, forgiveness, and single-heartedness. No wonder we like to ask God’s blessing on them just as we do on other friends and family. Our pets, too, often are instruments of God’s peace.
In recent years, the practice of Epiphany has been to bless the animals during the main Sunday Eucharist near the Feast of St. Francis (October 4). This year we are moving it out of the Sunday Eucharist very intentionally. There will be no blessing of the animals in the Sunday liturgy this year. Instead we will do it on Saturday, the day before.
Epiphany has always been a neighborhood church, though we have placed more or less emphasis on that identity at different seasons in the history of our parish. Now, though, we find ourselves in a place of vitality: we have good facilities, good programs, a great staff, and an involved congregation. Now is the season for us to turn our faces more directly toward our neighbors, serving and inviting them to know the grace of Christ that moves through us.
Have you ever noticed what it takes to bind a neighborhood together? One of the key ingredients is to get outdoors. Neighborhoods are not bound together by sitting each in our own living room, staring at a big-screen TV or at a computer. Neighborhoods are not bound together by backing our car out of the garage, driving to work, driving back into the garage, and shutting the door before we even get out. Neighborhoods are bound together when we get out of the house, meet one another, and perhaps engage in some common project or activity.
Activities like the Summer Concert Series and the Pokemon Go station and the Music Guild are intended to invite others onto our campus for non-threatening (i.e., non-religious) activities. With St. Francis Day, we have an opportunity to move the needle just a little bit. By moving the liturgy outside of the nave, and out of the Eucharist, we make it less threatening, more inviting for others to join. They may not be ready to drink the blood of Christ, but having Fido blessed might be OK.
This year a small team led by Diane Carlisle, Kathea Yarnell, Sandra Darling, Eileen Riley, Amy Griffin, Hunter Wessells, and Laura Sargent is assembling liturgy, music, treats, and activities with which to invite our neighbors—and their pets—onto our campus on Saturday, October 1, at 1 pm. The Choristers will sing, we will hear the Word of God, and pets (and by extension their owners!) will be blessed. We hope to do this on the grounds of the church, for all to see and to make it easy for passers-by to join in. In case of rain we will adjourn to the Great Hall.
At this event we hope to serve our neighbors, to give them the opportunity to show off their pets, to meet one another, and allow us to meet them. Please come prepared to share a warm “Hello!” and bring open eyes to see how we might bring the love of Christ into the Madrona community in new and powerful ways. Just as God came down from heaven to dwell among us, so God invites us to come out of our comfortable buildings and to rub shoulders with our neighbors. Come join us on Saturday, October 1, at 1 pm as we share the love of God with our neighbors and their pets.
Epiphany’s New Tradition: First Sunday Brunch
A brunch with your friends from all the services!
On the first Sunday of every month (excepting December and January), join us in the Great Hall for brunch during Everybody Hour at 10 am. This is a time to remember that relationship is primary! Our parish may be spread across four different celebrations of Eucharist on any given Sunday, but this brunch is meant to be your opportunity to catch up with everybody.
The first First Sunday Brunch will be hosted by the formation team and the finance team, and they will briefly “show and tell” about important upcoming events and opportunities related to their groups. Each First Sunday Brunch will be hosted by a different group. Speak to Todd Foster if you think your group might be interested in hosting a brunch.
Open Registration for the Spring Walking Pilgrimage in England
The spring Walking Pilgrimage from London to Canterbury is open to enrollment. This pilgrimage starts and ends at Evensong at Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral. In between are nine days of beautiful countryside walking averaging 10–12 miles per day with lots of time for writing, reflection, prayer, and fellowship along this holy and sacred pilgrimage route. The dates are set for March 10–23, 2017, during Lent. There will be a maximum enrollment of ten people for this trip, so sign up early! For more information or to commit a deposit to hold your place, please contact George Moberly.
The deadline for deposits is Monday, October 17.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
September 25, 2016
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Jeremiah 32:1–3a, 6–15
Psalm 91:1–6, 14–16
1 Timothy 6:6–16
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
September 24: YWCA Apartment Beautification
On the last Saturday of the month, a crew from Epiphany gives a recently vacated apartment a good scrub, stocks it with basic supplies, and leaves it looking a bit more like home for the family moving into transitional housing. Come join us; it’s a great family project! For more information, contact Ann Beck.
September 25: Adult Forum – Under Our Skin, Part 2
In early summer, the Seattle Times launched a video project called, “Under Our Skin.” It features 18 people from Western Washington, including Bishop Greg Rickel, explaining what terms like “racism,” “microaggression,” and “white privilege” mean to them. Join members of your Epiphany community in this important conversation. To preview the project’s videos, click here.
September 25: Music Guild Event – Intimate Baroque
At 6 pm in the Chapel, the Epiphany Seattle Music Guild will offer a concert of French baroque music featuring six of the most noted baroque performers in the Puget Sound area: sopranos Madeline Bersamina and Rebekah Gilmore; Ingrid Matthews, baroque violin; Janet See, baroque flute; Juliana Soltis, viola da gamba; and Jillon Stoppels Dupree, harpsichord. Dupree will play a harpsichord donated to Epiphany Seattle by long-time parishioner Bill Hoppin in loving memory of his wife Bonnie.
September 28: In the Style of Taizé
The Taizé experience at Epiphany offers an opportunity for contemplation in an atmosphere of candlelight. The worship is in a style pioneered by the ecumenical monastic community in Taizé, France. These quiet, simple services of readings, meditative singing, and prayer are led by Epiphany Choir and designed to welcome us to a deeper, calmer experience of rest and renewal in the healing presence of God. Join us at 7:30 pm in the Church. Following the Taizé service, the chapel will be open for people to experience our new canvas labyrinth.
October 1: Monthly Women’s Mini-Retreat
On the first Saturday of every month, women of Epiphany gather for prayer, laughter, and fellowship with coffee and treats at 9 am in the Fireside Room. Women of all ages are welcome!
October 1: St. Francis Day Celebration
This year the Blessing of the Animals will move outside our Sunday liturgy and into a dedicated liturgy on Saturday, October 1, at 1 pm. There will be dog treats, people treats, an art station, autographs by “Good Dog Carl” and the author of his books! There will also be a dog-wash! Come at 1 pm sharp for the Blessing of the Animals and a special performance by the Choristers, and stay to meet your friends’ pets. Invite your neighbors and their pets, too!
October 2: First Sunday Brunch
On the first Sunday of every month (excepting September and January), join us in the Great Hall for brunch during Everybody Hour at 10 am. Our parish may be spread across four different celebrations of Eucharist on any given Sunday, but this brunch is meant to be your opportunity to catch up with everybody. This month the Formation Team will host and share about their plan for the coming year.
October 2: Faith in the Shadow of Grief Class Begins
Whether it is the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, the loss of a dream, our health, our youth, a marriage, a significant relationship, or a career, loss always finds us, and we are changed as a result. We anticipate anxiety, grief, depression, and anger with these transitions, but the road to healing can also offer us surprise and transformation. The goal of this 7-week session is to support and guide you on this sacred and scary path in an atmosphere of confidentiality and safety. Your leaders for this group are Meredith Nelson and Carmen Hoffman. If you have an interest in joining us, please contact Carmen Hoffman for more information and to register.
October 9: Music Guild Event – Evensong with Epiphany Choir
Please join us at 5 pm in the church when Epiphany Choir sings the timeless service of Choral Evensong. The Rev. Todd Foster will officiate the liturgy. The music will be from noted 20th century American composers and well-known evening hymns will be included in the service.
October 15: Love God, Love People, Serve the World: A Retreat for Small Groups
A relationship with God is more than going through the motions. A spiritual retreat can quiet your soul and renew your faith. Attend this half-day retreat with your small group on Saturday, October 15, at 8:30–11:30 am and experience worship, workshops, and extended time together! For more information or to RSVP for your group, contact the Rev. Kate Wesch. We are hoping to be able to provide childcare during this event. Please email Elizabeth Walker by October 1 if you and your family will need childcare.
September 23–October 22: Joyful Noise at Taproot Theatre
Come see parishioner Frank Lawler in Taproot Theatre’s production of Joyful Noise! Based on true events, Joyful Noise tells the story of the creation of Handel’s Messiah. Frank plays King George II, the composer’s reluctant patron. Suffering both humiliation and scandal, how will Handel come to write one of the best-known choral works in Western music? See the show and find out!
November 5: Madrona Community Council Winetasting Fundraiser
The Madrona Community Council collaborates with Leschi Market on this annual fundraiser. Leschi Market assembles vinters and representatives, and on the night of the event you taste and many, many wines that are sold at a discount. Just leave your completed order at the exit, and when your order is ready, Leschi Market will call you for pick up. Click here to get your tickets.