Saturday, October 14, 2017

CCRP presentation

At the forum last week, Tom Delaney gave us an update about the Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project, and the Nutmeg development.  As currently planned, this would include apartments including low income housing, Cathedral program space, and Cathedral parking.






















Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: The Easy Yoke

It was a chilly February evening in Alexandria, Virginia. The church was full and warm. I knelt before the bishop, and my priestly colleagues gathered around me. Warm hands pressing down on my head, my shoulders, my back. Bishop Theuner began the ordination prayer, and at the appropriate moment, all others lifted their hands while his remained. I felt the weight of all those hands lift off my shoulders, and immediately felt a lighter, gentler weight settle in their place, although there was nothing there. I remember thinking, “this is the yoke,” and feeling intensely grateful for the gentleness of the yoke of Christ.

There have been a few times in the intervening 20 years when that yoke hasn’t seemed quite so gentle. I think my esteemed clergy colleagues here will appreciate that. We could all tell tales ... and for that reason, among many others, I am deeply grateful to our staff clergy and to our non-stipendiary clergy who participate in leadership at the cathedral, and who continue to wear that yoke willingly and joyfully. And I give thanks today for the long and faithful priesthood of our brother Alden Franklin, who “slipped the surly bonds of earth” late last Tuesday, on the eve of St Francis Day.

For a more challenging view of the yoke, I recommend the poem by the 17th century poet priest George Herbert. Its title is The Collar, and that’s a deliberate double-entendre recalling both what the Brits call the dog-collar (ie the clerical collar) and the old word for rage or tantrum, choler (pronounced like collar).

We are all about collars today, as we celebrate both clergy appreciation day and the blessing of the animals, in honor of that gentlest and most extreme of saints, Francis of Assisi. The irony of our celebration is not lost on me: we remember the saint who worked to bring peace during the Crusades, in a week when we are heartbroken and outraged by an act of unthinkable violence during a concert in Las Vegas. Francis learned early in his life that violence is never the answer, that taking up arms is an act that leads to death, not life, that human beings who are seduced by a culture of arms become corrupt, diminish their humanity, and lose sight of the teachings of the Prince of Peace.

What kind of madness leads someone to stack armloads of weapons in a hotel room and open fire on a crowd of strangers who are simply enjoying an evening of music? The compulsion to fire bullets ever faster, ever farther, ever more destructively is a kind of addiction, and it afflicts thousands of our fellow Americans, with the result that this country is in the midst of a public health crisis, far more serious than our local Hepatitis A outbreak, and which is not being addressed by our national leaders.

When the teenage Francis put on his shiny new armor and trotted off to fight against the citizens of the neighboring town, he had to be able to look his enemy in the eye before he could injure him. Surely that was a more civilized way of life. But even so, after being captured and held to ransom for a year, Francis saw the light and embraced peace-making instead. Recuperating from the illness he had contracted in prison, he discovered the gentle joys of God’s creation, and in the tranquility of the Umbrian countryside he heard the voice of Jesus, whose yoke is easy, whose burden is light, saying, “Build my church”.

Francis refused the priesthood, although eventually he did consent to be ordained a deacon. He didn’t want to be tempted by power or to rise through the ranks of the church. He dedicated himself to leading a revolution from the bottom: his order of the Friars Minor or Little Brothers owned no property, ate what they could beg from day to day, resisted institutional order and material security. They followed the example of the creatures: the birds who neither sow nor reap, the forest animals which take only as much as they need, dependent on God’s daily provision of the bare necessities of life.

From Francis and his brothers we learn simplicity of life. We learn to take Scripture seriously - to follow Jesus wherever he leads, to set our hands to the plow of the Gospel and not look back. And we learn to broaden our compassion, to open our hearts to the small, the overlooked, the forgotten. We learn to love the animals around us. We adopt from animal shelters, we cherish the small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish in our care. We feed them, keep them clean and safe, pay for medical treatment when they get sick, and finally, when the time comes, we repay their trust in us by giving them painlessly back to their Creator, even though doing so breaks our hearts.

The gentle yoke of Jesus guided Francis of Assisi from youthful foolishness to a single-minded devotion to the purest principles of the Gospel. He willingly accepted that yoke as he accepted his call to build the church by building a community of love, and he found great joy and contentment in answering that call. We too can accept the yoke that is easy, and cultivate community right here. We can answer the call of Jesus to come to him and lay down our burdens of ambition, anxiety, and judgment. For God knows we are weary of living in this culture of fear; we are tired of the violence, the meanness of spirit, the multiple addictions that beset us. We want, like Francis, to be peacemakers in this troubled world. Take his yoke upon you and you will find rest. Francis found his rest when he gave his life to the Prince of Peace. What is to prevent us from doing likewise?

Octóber 8, 2017: celebrating St Francis and Clergy Appreciation Day
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Vida Joven Day

This year, and I hope every year, we are focussed on community. Here at St. Paul’s Cathedral we are focussing on not just the idea of community, but of incorporating community in our daily and church lives in a very real way. And we have the perfect example of operating in community today, for we are celebrating Vida Joven de Mexico, formerly known as Dorcas House, our orphanage and foster home in Tijuana, MX. We support Vida Joven to love, protect and educate some 30 - 35 children. These children have been abandoned, either because their parents are in prison, incapacitated by drugs, or in the case of more than one of our kids, found wandering the streets of Tijuana at 2 or 3 in the morning. These kids have been taken into Vida Joven, loved, helped to become part of the community. We make a huge effort to see that they are well educated, and we have even sent three of our older girls to University.

It is thanks to the late Stephen Velez-Confer and many others, some of whom are here today, that Vida Joven exists at all. The devoted and dedicated people from Los Angeles, and Orange County who had started the house by sheltering a number of kids who were incarcerated with their parents in prison, had run out of steam and fundraising ideas, and wanted to retire. The house was in danger of closing, until, as our former dean Scott Richardson said, “I sent a van load of bleeding heart clergy and sharp pencilled business people down to asses the situation. They came back saying, ‘after much prayer we have determined that we must take this on.’ ” So we did, and now we celebrate.

Today’s celebrations include a forum in which Beth Beall, our fantastic program director, has show
n us life at the home, through pictures and discussion, with a q&a session led by Silvia, our house director and chair of the Mexican board of directors. Sylvia’s niece, Marcia, will speak from the pulpit in a few minutes to tell us about the work of the past year, and where we hope to go from here. And Amy Dagman has worked all year with the children to produce a wonderful art show, located in the Fifth Avenue courtyard. The art is for sale. The proceeds from the sale go directly to the children of Vida Joven. Thank you, Amy! Finally, there will be great food, both at the forum and after the 10:30 service. So today we have a fiesta in honor of Vida Joven and its mission.

As mentioned, the mission of the home is to love, protect, and educate every child who comes to Vida Joven. Some have called Vida Joven, our flagship outreach project. For well over ten years now, we, and many others throughout the diocese and beyond, have worked to ensure its viability. It takes much work, prayer and a big investment in this special community to make it work.

And our lessons today focus upon the importance of community. Community and obedience.

In Exodus, we find the Israelites traveling through the desert, landing in Rephadim to camp. Repahdim is in what is now Saudi Arabia, so we can only imagine how hot and thirsty the campers were. Well, they complained to Moses, begging him to get them some water. They were so angry at Moses for taking them on such a journey that Moses feared for his life. Their sense of community was overcome by their physical needs, and they were on the brink of disobeying. They quarreled, and literally tested the Lord. Not obedient, and only feeling a sense of community in a negative way. Not good.

However, God responds. God graciously and faithfully responds not to the people's characteristic lack of faith, but to their characteristic human needs. Moreover, God does so in a manner that provides not simply for the physical need, but in a way that restores the community! Here, working through Moses, God causes water, which often rains down from heaven) to spring forth from the earth. By working through Moses, the community is restored even as the people's bodily needs are met And our reading from Philippians, shows us the very meaning of community, as the writer urges us to: “Do nothing from selfish ambition and conceit...” and “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others”. (Philippians 25: 2,3). He goes on to say, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant..., being made in human likeness .” (25: 5-7)

So to share the mind of Christ is to let go of our self-interest and put others first. It’s to seek what’s best for all concerned in every situation. It’s to lose oneself in pursuit of God’s kingdom and experience the fullness of God’s peace, joy and love.

As Paul says, “You have the strength of community, not only those who are mature in the faith, but children whose spontaneity is always insightful and refreshing”.

These lessons are learned every day at Vida Joven. The children there have the strength of community, and know that they need to put others first. I’m not saying they always do it, but they do know that In order to live successfully in community there, they must obey the rules and see to one another’s well being. Many of these kids aspire to a fine future.

Awhile back, at an informal get together with Beth Beall the older children were tossing around a volleyball while seated in a circle. They started talking about the future, and as they passed the ball back and forth, they told each other what they aspired to do in the future: veterinarian , photographer, chef, nurse, and many other prospective careers. No-one laughed or sneered at these aspirations. because these kids support each other, and live in their community as Paul has suggested. So we invite all of you to make a home in your hearts for these fantastic children.

Now, I would like to introduce Marcia Laborin, Sylvia’s niece, who will tell you more about the wonderful work of Vida Joven, but before I do, I ask you to remember:

  • In Tijuana 6,000 children live on the street
  • 80,000 do not attend school
  • 400 used to live with their parents in prison

Vida Joven is changing those horrific numbers, one child at a time.

The Rev. Canon Joan Butler Ford 
 Exodus17:1-7; PS 25:1-9; Philippians 2: 1-13; Matthew21:23-32

Monday, October 2, 2017

It's all in the details

A photoessay exploring some of the details in our Cathedral!











Monday, September 25, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: A journey of vulnerability

The​ ​Rev.​ ​Cn.​ ​Jeff​ ​Martinhauk
 Proper​ ​20A,​ ​September​ ​24,​ ​2017 
St.​ ​Paul’s​ ​Cathedral,​ ​San​ ​Diego 
Matt​ ​14:22-33
The​ ​gospel​ ​lesson​ ​for​ ​today​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorites.​ ​​ ​When​ ​I​ ​worked​ ​in​ ​pastoral​ ​care​ ​in​ ​the hospital,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​to​ ​admit​ ​it​ ​was​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​frequent​ ​go-to​ ​passages​ ​in​ ​hospital​ ​visits.​ ​​ ​A​ ​visit​ ​with one​ ​woman​ ​I​ ​remember​ ​very​ ​vividly​ ​still​ ​stays​ ​with​ ​me.

She​ ​was​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital​ ​for​ ​a​ ​fairly​ ​minor​ ​procedure,​ ​but​ ​she​ ​was​ ​very​ ​distraught.​ ​​ ​She​ ​felt overwhelmed​ ​with​ ​responsibility.​ ​​ ​Her​ ​school-age​ ​children​ ​needed​ ​her​ ​to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​them​ ​and wanted​ ​her​ ​home.​ ​​ ​Her​ ​husband​ ​seemed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​lost​ ​while​ ​she​ ​was​ ​away,​ ​not​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​to manage​ ​the​ ​household.​ ​​ ​Her​ ​employer​ ​was​ ​giving​ ​her​ ​problems​ ​for​ ​taking​ ​time​ ​off​ ​to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​her body​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital.​ ​Being​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital​ ​bed​ ​while​ ​so​ ​many​ ​people​ ​wanted​ ​her​ ​to​ ​be working​ ​left​ ​her​ ​feeling​ ​worthless.​ ​Her​ ​value​ ​to​ ​each​ ​of​ ​those​ ​around​ ​her​ ​depended​ ​on​ ​how​ ​much she​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​do​ ​for​ ​them.

The​ ​gospel​ ​story​ ​for​ ​today,​ ​which​ ​she​ ​and​ ​I​ ​started​ ​talking​ ​about,​ ​has​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​to​ ​say​ ​about​ ​what​ ​was bothering​ ​her.​ ​​ ​I​ ​imagine​ ​many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​related​ ​immediately​ ​to​ ​the​ ​first​ ​group​ ​of​ ​workers​ ​in​ ​today’s story.​ ​​ ​We​ ​think​ ​“it’s​ ​not​ ​fair!”​ ​as​ ​those​ ​who​ ​only​ ​worked​ ​an​ ​hour​ ​get​ ​paid​ ​the​ ​same​ ​as​ ​those​ ​who worked​ ​a​ ​whole​ ​day.​ ​​ ​But​ ​of​ ​course​ ​those​ ​who​ ​worked​ ​a​ ​full​ ​day​ ​still​ ​get​ ​paid​ ​what​ ​they​ ​were promised,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​landowner’s​ ​generosity​ ​to​ ​those​ ​who​ ​came​ ​last​ ​doesn’t​ ​degrade​ ​what​ ​those who​ ​started​ ​working​ ​earlier​ ​will​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​with​ ​the​ ​wages​ ​they​ ​earned.

But​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​is,​ ​most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​tie​ ​our​ ​worth​ ​to​ ​our​ ​productivity.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​story​ ​today,​ ​the​ ​ones​ ​who worked​ ​more​ ​complain​ ​when​ ​the​ ​ones​ ​who​ ​worked​ ​less​ ​get​ ​paid​ ​the​ ​same​ ​even​ ​though​ ​they​ ​get paid​ ​what​ ​they​ ​were​ ​promised.​ ​They​ ​tell​ ​the​ ​landowner:​ ​‘you​ ​have​ ​made​ ​them​ ​equal​ ​to​ ​us.”​ ​In the​ ​words​ ​of​ ​one​ ​commentator,​ ​“Work​ ​becomes​ ​not​ ​simply​ ​the​ ​means​ ​for​ ​earning​ ​daily​ ​bread, but​ ​a​ ​source​ ​of​ ​division​ ​and​ ​competition,​ ​a​ ​means​ ​of​ ​reinforcing​ ​the​ ​categories​ ​of​ ​winners​ ​and losers,​ ​superior​ ​and​ ​inferior”​ ​(Feasting,​ ​p.​ ​97)​ ​When​ ​the​ ​daylong​ ​workers​ ​complain​ ​“You​ ​have made​ ​​them​ ​​equal​ ​to​ ​​us​”​ ​they​ ​take​ ​us​ ​underneath​ ​economic​ ​concerns​ ​into​ ​a​ ​deeper​ ​understanding of​ ​where​ ​we​ ​get​ ​our​ ​worth,​ ​where​ ​we​ ​are​ ​threatened,​ ​and​ ​where​ ​we​ ​feel​ ​shame​ ​if​ ​our​ ​basic reward​ ​of​ ​that​ ​worth​ ​is​ ​challenged.

The​ ​daylong​ ​workers​ ​get​ ​paid​ ​what​ ​they​ ​were​ ​promised,​ ​but​ ​get​ ​upset​ ​that​ ​others​ ​got​ ​paid​ ​as well.​ ​​ ​And​ ​in​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​they​ ​reveal​ ​that​ ​the​ ​grounding​ ​of​ ​worth​ ​is​ ​based​ ​not​ ​on​ ​who​ ​we​ ​are,​ ​but​ ​on what​ ​we​ ​do. “If​ ​I​ ​produce​ ​I​ ​am​ ​worthy.​ ​​ ​If​ ​I​ ​do​ ​not,​ ​I​ ​am​ ​not​ ​worthy.”​ ​I​ ​certainly​ ​feel​ ​that​ ​pressure.​ ​I​ ​imagine most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​probably​ ​can.​ ​That's​ ​the​ ​root​ ​of​ ​the​ ​perceived​ ​unfairness​ ​in​ ​this​ ​story.

This​ ​view​ ​of​ ​worthiness​ ​is​ ​clearly​ ​not​ ​new,​ ​because​ ​Jesus​ ​told​ ​this​ ​parable​ ​long​ ​ago.​ ​​ ​But​ ​social worker​ ​and​ ​Episcopalian​ ​Brene​ ​Brown​ ​argues​ ​that​ ​this​ ​view​ ​of​ ​worthiness​ ​is​ ​reaching​ ​more​ ​and more​ ​troubling​ ​levels​ ​in​ ​our​ ​society​ ​today.

She​ ​is​ ​a​ ​shame​ ​researcher.​ ​​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​you​ ​have​ ​seen​ ​some​ ​of​ ​her​ ​TED​ ​talks​ ​or​ ​read​ ​some​ ​of​ ​her books.​ ​​ ​She​ ​defines​ ​shame​ ​as​ ​“the​ ​intensely​ ​painful​ ​feeling​ ​or​ ​experience​ ​of​ ​believing​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are flawed​ ​and​ ​therefore​ ​unworthy​ ​of​ ​love​ ​and​ ​belonging.”​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​the​ ​total​ ​opposite​ ​of​ ​owning​ ​our story,​ ​with​ ​all​ ​its​ ​joy​ ​and​ ​pain,​ ​with​ ​all​ ​its​ ​blemishes​ ​and​ ​beauty,​ ​and​ ​feeling​ ​worthy​ ​in​ ​our​ ​own skin.

In​ ​the​ ​case​ ​of​ ​the​ ​woman​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital​ ​I​ ​mentioned​ ​just​ ​a​ ​minute​ ​ago,​ ​she​ ​felt​ ​pulled​ ​apart​ ​in​ ​a web​ ​of​ ​shame​ ​because​ ​she​ ​could​ ​not​ ​live​ ​into​ ​the​ ​expectation​ ​of​ ​being​ ​a​ ​perfect​ ​mother,​ ​wife, and​ ​employee​ ​while​ ​sitting​ ​in​ ​a​ ​hospital​ ​bed​ ​recovering​ ​from​ ​surgery.​ ​She​ ​felt​ ​unlovable​ ​as​ ​a result.​ ​​ ​She​ ​was​ ​not​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​produce.​ ​​ ​In​ ​the​ ​gospel​ ​story,​ ​she​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​forced out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​first​ ​group​ ​and​ ​into​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​later​ ​groups.​ ​That​ ​left​ ​her​ ​feeling​ ​unworthy,​ ​feeling shame.​ ​​ ​According​ ​to​ ​Brene​ ​Brown’s​ ​research,​ ​women​ ​may​ ​frequently​ ​experience​ ​shame​ ​like this​ ​woman​ ​did,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​web​ ​pulling​ ​her​ ​apart,​ ​while​ ​men​ ​frequently​ ​express​ ​shame​ ​not​ ​so​ ​much​ ​as​ ​a web​ ​but​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​box,​ ​trapping​ ​them​ ​in:​ ​expectations​ ​closing​ ​in​ ​around​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​pulling apart.

But​ ​this​ ​gospel​ ​lesson​ ​blows​ ​that​ ​apart,​ ​because​ ​here’s​ ​the​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​the​ ​people​ ​who​ ​came​ ​last​ ​to work​ ​the​ ​vineyard​ ​learned:​ ​​ ​your​ ​worth​ ​isn’t​ ​dependent​ ​on​ ​how​ ​much​ ​you​ ​do,​ ​or​ ​how​ ​much​ ​you accomplish.​ ​​ ​Chasing​ ​our​ ​worth​ ​by​ ​believing​ ​we​ ​will​ ​be​ ​whole​ ​if​ ​we​ ​get​ ​enough​ ​done,​ ​or​ ​if​ ​it​ ​is perfect​ ​enough,​ ​or​ ​if​ ​we​ ​make​ ​enough,​ ​only​ ​results​ ​in​ ​an​ ​empty​ ​self.

God’s​ ​love​ ​doesn’t​ ​come​ ​because​ ​we’ve​ ​earned​ ​it.​ ​​ ​God’s​ ​love​ ​just​ ​comes.​ ​​ ​That’s​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​of grace!​ ​Your​ ​worth​ ​and​ ​mine​ ​and​ ​everybody​ ​else's--​ ​it​ ​stems​ ​from​ ​God’s​ ​generosity.​ ​​ ​You​ ​are worthy​ ​because​ ​you​ ​are​ ​God’s​ ​beloved.​ ​​ ​God​ ​loves​ ​you​ ​not​ ​because​ ​you​ ​got​ ​up​ ​early​ ​and​ ​worked hard.​ ​​ ​God​ ​loves​ ​you​ ​whether​ ​or​ ​not​ ​you​ ​were​ ​in​ ​the​ ​faith​ ​early​ ​or​ ​late,​ ​whether​ ​you’ve​ ​been​ ​in the​ ​vineyard​ ​working​ ​hard​ ​or​ ​maybe​ ​haven't​ ​even​ ​been​ ​trying​ ​that​ ​hard​ ​at​ ​all​ ​because​ ​you’re​ ​tired and​ ​it’s​ ​hard.​ ​Do​ ​you​ ​hear​ ​the​ ​echoes​ ​of​ ​the​ ​invitation​ ​to​ ​communion​ ​we​ ​use​ ​from​ ​Iona:​ ​Christ invites​ ​you--​ ​to​ ​be​ ​known​ ​and​ ​fed​ ​not​ ​because​ ​of​ ​what​ ​you’ve​ ​done,​ ​or​ ​not​ ​done,​ ​but​ ​because​ ​of who​ ​you​ ​are:​ ​the​ ​landowner​ ​in​ ​this​ ​story​ ​provides​ ​​enough​.

It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​gift,​ ​freely​ ​given.​ ​We​ ​so​ ​easily​ ​forget​ ​that​ ​God​ ​isn’t​ ​riding​ ​our​ ​backs​ ​to​ ​perform.​ ​God made​ ​us​ ​to​ ​love​ ​us.​ ​​ ​The​ ​work​ ​we​ ​are​ ​called​ ​to​ ​is​ ​a​ ​response​ ​to​ ​that​ ​love.

So​ ​many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​have​ ​experiences​ ​of​ ​church​ ​that​ ​aren’t​ ​rooted​ ​in​ ​that:​ ​experiences​ ​of​ ​church​ ​or​ ​lies about​ ​God​ ​that​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​not​ ​enough​ ​and​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​only​ ​get​ ​to​ ​God​ ​if​ ​we​ ​win,​ ​if​ ​we beat​ ​everybody​ ​else​ ​to​ ​the​ ​vineyard,​ ​or​ ​if​ ​we​ ​work​ ​to​ ​point​ ​out​ ​how​ ​late​ ​everybody​ ​else​ ​is.

The​ ​only​ ​way​ ​out​ ​of​ ​those​ ​lies​ ​that​ ​tell​ ​us​ ​that,​ ​out​ ​of​ ​those​ ​wounds,​ ​is​ ​to​ ​be​ ​vulnerable​ ​about​ ​our own​ ​humanity.

Because​ ​all​ ​of​ ​us--​ ​all​ ​of​ ​humanity--​ ​shares​ ​in​ ​this​ ​one​ ​thing.​ ​​ ​We​ ​are​ ​not​ ​God.​ ​​ ​We​ ​are​ ​frail.​ ​​ ​We cannot​ ​win​ ​all​ ​of​ ​the​ ​time.​ ​​ ​The​ ​hustle​ ​to​ ​find​ ​worthiness​ ​in​ ​success​ ​by​ ​our​ ​winning,​ ​or​ ​by​ ​being right,​ ​or​ ​by​ ​blaming​ ​others,​ ​will​ ​not​ ​fill​ ​us​ ​up.

Worthiness​ ​comes​ ​not​ ​in​ ​success,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​effort,​ ​in​ ​willingness​ ​to​ ​go​ ​out​ ​in​ ​the​ ​vineyard,​ ​and​ ​to try.​ ​​ ​And​ ​when​ ​we​ ​fail,​ ​worthiness​ ​come​ ​from​ ​having​ ​the​ ​courage​ ​to​ ​get​ ​up​ ​and​ ​try​ ​again.​ ​​ ​And to​ ​be​ ​willing​ ​not​ ​to​ ​have​ ​our​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​be​ ​perfect,​ ​but​ ​to​ ​share​ ​those​ ​warts​ ​and​ ​challenges​ ​and obstacles​ ​with​ ​our​ ​fellow​ ​human​ ​beings.​ ​​ ​Because​ ​the​ ​lie​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hustle​ ​tells​ ​us​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​the only​ ​ones​ ​struggling​ ​to​ ​win--​ ​but​ ​the​ ​truth​ ​is​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is​ ​very​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​find​ ​worthiness​ ​until​ ​we​ ​can share​ ​enough​ ​about​ ​ourselves-​ ​to​ ​be​ ​vulnerable​ ​enough​ ​with​ ​a​ ​safe​ ​group​ ​of​ ​others-​ ​to​ ​find​ ​that we​ ​are​ ​not​ ​alone​ ​in​ ​this​ ​struggle​ ​of​ ​being​ ​human,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​that​ ​other​ ​people​ ​share​ ​the​ ​exact same​ ​challenges.​ ​We​ ​all​ ​have​ ​some​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​failure,​ ​or​ ​a​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​being​ ​wrong​ ​or​ ​not knowing​ ​and​ ​looking​ ​foolish​ ​or​ ​like​ ​a​ ​failure.​ ​But​ ​we​ ​all​ ​share​ ​in​ ​that​ ​very​ ​human​ ​experience. And​ ​sharing​ ​that​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​vulnerability​ ​is​ ​not​ ​weakness.​ ​​ ​But​ ​vulnerability​ ​instead​ ​opens​ ​us​ ​to authenticity​​ ​to​ ​our​ ​very​ ​worth:​ ​the​ ​worth​ ​as​ ​God​ ​sees​ ​us,​ ​not​ ​for​ ​what​ ​we​ ​do​ ​but​ ​for​ ​who​ ​we​ ​are: human,​ ​God’s​ ​beloved,​ ​enough.

So​ ​I​ ​invite​ ​you​ ​as​ ​we​ ​go​ ​deeper​ ​this​ ​year​ ​into​ ​cultivating​ ​community​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​this​ ​as​ ​a​ ​journey of​ ​vulnerability:​ ​a​ ​journey​ ​into​ ​the​ ​experience​ ​of​ ​sharing​ ​what​ ​it​ ​means​ ​to​ ​be​ ​human​ ​with​ ​each other.​ ​​ ​And​ ​to​ ​be​ ​gentle​ ​with​ ​each​ ​other,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​wonder​ ​what​ ​it​ ​might​ ​be​ ​like​ ​if​ ​that​ ​kind​ ​of experience​ ​were​ ​so​ ​contagious​ ​that​ ​it​ ​spilled​ ​out​ ​into​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world.

I​ ​leave​ ​you​ ​with​ ​a​ ​poem​ ​by​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorites,​ ​Mark​ ​Nepo.
“Understory” 
I’ve​ ​been​ ​watching​ ​stars
rely​ ​on​ ​the​ ​darkness​ ​they resist.​
​And​ ​fish​ ​struggle​ ​with
and​ ​against​ ​the​ ​current.​ ​And
hawks​ ​glide​ ​faster​ ​when​ ​
their wings​ ​don’t​ ​move.

Still​ ​I​ ​keep​ ​retelling​ ​what
happens​ ​till​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​out
the​ ​way​ ​I​ ​want.

We​ ​try​ ​so​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the
main​ ​character​ ​when​ ​it​ ​is
our​ ​point​ ​of​ ​view​ ​that
keeps​ ​us​ ​from​ ​the​ ​truth.

The​ ​sun​ ​has​ ​its​ ​story
that​ ​no​ ​curtain​ ​can​ ​stop.

It’s​ ​true.​ ​The​ ​only​ ​way​ ​beyond
the​ ​self​ ​is​ ​through​ ​it.​ ​The​ ​only
way​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​what​ ​can​ ​never
be​ ​said​ ​is​ ​to​ ​quiet​ ​our​ ​need
to​ ​steer​ ​the​ ​plot.

When​ ​jarred​ ​by​ ​life,​ ​we​ ​might
unravel​ ​the​ ​story​ ​we​ ​tell​ ​ourselves
and​ ​discover​ ​the​ ​story​ ​we​ ​are​ ​in,
the​ ​one​ ​that​ ​keeps​ ​telling​ ​us.

Feasting​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Word,​ ​Year​ ​A,​ ​Vol.​ ​4.​​ ​Ed.​ ​David​ ​L.​ ​Bartlett​ ​and​ ​Barbara​ ​Brown​ ​Taylor. Louisville,​ ​Kentucky:​ ​John​ ​Knox​ ​Press,​ ​2010.
Brown,​ ​Brene.​ ​Various.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

State of the Cathedral 2017

At the forum on Sunday, Dean Penny led us through a powerpoint presentation on the state of the Cathedral. Here's the outline! 

Good News:

  • CAT Survey says we are healthy and spiritually vital
  • Financial Accounts are in excellent shape
  • Revenue and Expenses YTD in line with budget
  • Recognized in the Community
  • Outreach is growing
  • Membership tracking and Communication
  • Vision for Mission is progressing
  • CCRP is moving forward
  • Renovated Chapel
  • Floor Project
  • Live Streaming and Videos on demand
  • A Great Staff Team
  • A busy summer!


Vision for mission

  • Created in 2015
  • Chapter received in early 2016
  • Revised summer 2017
  • Six goal areas
  • Comprehensive objectives and tasks
  • Changing Lives!

Cathedral for the city

  • A Voice for Justice established: public conversations
  • Public visibility enhanced by communications strategy

Community

  • Leadership development for Misa members
  • Bicultural Latino priest coming on staff
  • Realm software facilitates pastoral care and incorporation

Christian formation

  • Faith2Go for families
  • Small group culture
  • Multi-dimensional formation opportunities

Music and Arts

  • Audio-visual system allows live-streaming and recording

Outreach and Justice

  • Showers and Shelter for our homeless neighbors
  • Advocacy through public events and the CPPN

Worship

  • Live streaming expands congregation digitally
  • Dinner Church idea in development

Revised Edition at stpaulcathedral.org/who-we-are/our-mission

Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Plan (CCRP)

  • Forum October 8
  • Apartments not condos
  • Affordable housing included
  • LEED certified
  • Cathedral office/program space much expanded
  • Parking doubled
  • Community Space
  • Design submitted to city
  • Architect working with us
  • Move into space underneath Great Hall
  • Parking arrangements
  • Cost-benefit analysis

Timeline

  • Fall 2018: Close; construction begins
  • Late 2020: Move into new building
  • 2021: Renovations to original buildings:
    • Accessibility
    • Music Ministry
    • Outreach Center
  • Income to break even

What’s next?

  • Cultivate Community
  • Small groups: join one!
  • Find your ministry
  • Live and give fiercely and fearlessly!


Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Crossing the Sea to Life

If I were the kind of preacher who used visual aids, I would start this sermon by displaying a picture taken at Bayshore Beach in Tampa, last weekend. It showed the view looking out to sea from the beach. But there was no sea to see. Hurricane Irma, just offshore, had sucked the water away from the coast and exposed the seabed, it looked like for miles.

In the pictures I saw, dozens of people were out there walking around where they would normally be swimming, while the meteorologists were having mild hysterics, urging everyone to retreat to higher ground, because at any time without warning the water would come rushing back to surge onto the beach as the storm shifted position.

Until I saw those pictures, I always thought the story of the Red Sea was a little far-fetched. I had no concept that the wind could actually push the ocean away from the shore like that. I have a new appreciation for the power of nature. And I never cease to be amazed by the bull-headedness of people who disregard the warnings of experts and put their lives at risk. It was as if they had some kind of deathwish, going out there where they had no business to go.

So, Egypt and Israel. Moses leads the people of God through the dry seabed on their pilgrimage from death to life, from slavery to freedom; and the forces of death, the armed forces of Pharaoh, try to pursue them in order to perpetuate that captivity, going where they have no business to go, disregarding the power of Israel’s God. And we witness the truth of the chilling prophecy that Moses offered God’s people as they panicked, trapped between the army and the sea: “The Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.” Pharaoh’s army goes looking for death and finds it. In a culture of death, death is the only possible outcome.

The people of God pass through the sea in a kind of baptism, a one-way passage from death to life, from fear to hope, from the chains of Egypt to the unpredictable freedom of the pilgrim’s way. And each one of us gets to tread that way too, each one of us is invited to step forward into the sea, not armor-plated like the Egyptians, not seeking death and destruction, but unarmed and vulnerable, trusting in God to lead us from those places of death to springs of living water.

Exodus gives us the parable of the community’s journey of faith from death to life. Romans and Matthew give us tips on how to behave in that community.

When I first read Paul’s statement that the weak eat only vegetables, I felt relief that our vegan bishop isn’t visiting today. It’s ironic that Paul is telling the people of God not to judge each other but he uses pretty judgmental language himself. Why does he say that vegetarians are weak? The answer lies in the cultural context of his day. In ancient Roman cities, the vast majority of meat was sold only after being sacrificed to the pagan gods, or idols as Paul calls them. And animals were sacrificed all the time: death was all around, with pagan altars on every street corner.

Paul understood the diversity of the church. Some Christians felt secure enough in their faith to be able to eat that meat understanding that the idols were not real gods. Anyone who wasn’t quite convinced was better off avoiding meat altogether, rather than being conflicted by a fear that they were under the influence of whatever false god the meat had been sacrificed to. Paul’s point is that it really doesn’t matter what dietary laws you observe or which holidays you observe: all are to be regarded with equal honor and consideration because all are one in Christ.

To translate to our own context, some of us have given up smoking, some have cars that don’t use fossil fuels, some give away more than a tenth of their income. Some churches celebrate Communion every Sunday while others don’t. Some churches use incense, while others don’t. None of these habits entitle anyone to self-righteousness or to look down on any other member of the community, because what binds us together - the salvific act of God in Christ - is much, much more important that any lifestyle choices. That’s a foundational principle, both as we cultivate community in this parish, and in our efforts towards Christian unity.

The Gospel story, like the Epistle, could use a little contextual explanation. The parable uses some hyperbolic language to make its point. “Seventy seven” or “seven times seven” is like colloquially saying “ a million”. It just means an infinite number. Similarly, the ten thousand talents owed by the slave is an unimaginably huge amount of wealth: it’s just making the point that this was a really big debt, one that nobody could pay back, whereas 100 denarii is a relatively trivial amount.

Scandalously, several of the details in the parable have contemporary parallels in our own culture. First, the parable is about a king and his slaves. How do we seek forgiveness for the terrible national sin of slavery? How do we seek justice for the multitudes who are still enslaved today through human trafficking, knowing that San Diego is a major center of that appalling industry? And how do we seek forgiveness for our silence and inaction over decades and centuries of slavery and racial oppression? I am proud of my colleagues who have taken action to remove provocative symbols of the American Confederacy from their churches, even when that leadership threatens their personal security or that of the church.

Second, as archaic as it might seem, debtor’s prison is a reality today for our low-income neighbors. People convicted of minor offences are charged fees for public defenders, jail administration, and other aspects of the court system. When they can’t pay what often amounts to thousands of dollars, they are jailed, which means they can’t earn the money to pay the debt, and a vicious cycle ensues. It didn’t make sense in Jesus’ time and it doesn’t make sense now. My brother dean in Seattle tells me that his cathedral offers loans for bail and court fees, and they are always paid back. What if we set up a bail fund - or a security deposit fund - here in San Diego? Could we demonstrate a better way to care for our neighbors caught unjustly in the justice system or sleeping in the streets? Could we offer our oppressed brothers and sisters a path to freedom and newness of life? Perhaps that would feel to them like God pushing back the Red Sea.

In the parable, the king initially demonstrates amazing generosity to his servant. The king doesn’t draw up a repayment schedule; he forgives the entire debt. He wipes the slate clean. That’s not usually how we approach forgiveness. If I forgive you, I expect something from you: an apology, a reparation, a promise to change your ways. But here’s the catch: if I withhold forgiveness until you act, I am being held captive by you, because I have no power to affect your behavior. The only way to be truly free is to offer unconditional forgiveness. And what’s more, when we experience mercy, the parable tells us quite bluntly that we should pay it forward, if we want to live into the abundance of God’s mercy.

Forgiveness brings hard questions. Do I have to forgive the abusive spouse or parent who has left me with lasting scars, physical or emotional? Do I have to forgive the bully or narcissist who inflicted pain on me or someone I love, who continues the bad behavior, and who shows no remorse? We must distinguish between forgiveness and permitting a destructive behavior to continue doing damage to the individual or the community. Forgiveness should be a liberation, not a continuing captivity. And forgiveness may lead to pursuing justice, so that the perpetrator is prevented from injuring others.

What’s an appropriate amount of forgiveness? We live in a transactional society with simplistic rules. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Fairness is important. You should pay your debts. If you don’t pay your debts there should be consequences. We are astonished when someone extends forgiveness beyond what we think is reasonable. We want to parse it out: this much forgiveness for that much repentance. That’s the core of Peter’s question to Jesus. How much must I forgive? It suggests a deep need for a transactional approach, and I think most of us can relate; I know I can. Why do we need this measurement? What hunger does it satisfy, or what fear does it assuage? Is it because, if we can figure out how forgiveness is meted out, we imagine that we can do just enough of what is right to earn the necessary amount for salvation?

Is that how we want to live, constantly keeping score, meting out morsels of forgiveness to earn spiritual credit? Or do we want true freedom, born of the certainty that God’s love knows no limits and isn’t for sale?

Today we celebrate homecoming. It’s a day to rededicate ourselves to this community, to renew relationships, to remember who we are and whose we are. Today we have the opportunity to make new commitments, to give of ourselves in ministry. After this service we are offering a special meal, and I hope you will spend some extra time enjoying the food, nurturing friendships, and learning about the many ministries of the cathedral. Today is a good day to plunge into our community as the Israelites once plunged into the seabed, journeying to a life free of fear, knowing that we are in the hand of God, who is the God of life, of compassion and of infinite love.

September 17, 2017 Homecoming Sunday
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Crossing the Sea to Life

If I were the kind of preacher who used visual aids, I would start this sermon by displaying a picture taken at Bayshore Beach in Tampa, last weekend. It showed the view looking out to sea from the beach. But there was no sea to see. Hurricane Irma, just offshore, had sucked the water away from the coast and exposed the seabed, it looked like for miles. In the pictures I saw, dozens of people were out there walking around where they would normally be swimming, while the meteorologists were having mild hysterics, urging everyone to retreat to higher ground, because at any time without warning the water would come rushing back to surge onto the beach as the storm shifted position.

Until I saw those pictures, I always thought the story of the Red Sea was a little far-fetched. I had no concept that the wind could actually push the ocean away from the shore like that. I have a new appreciation for the power of nature. And I never cease to be amazed by the bull-headedness of people who disregard the warnings of experts and put their lives at risk. It was as if they had some kind of deathwish, going out there where they had no business to go.

So, Egypt and Israel. Moses leads the people of God through the dry seabed on their pilgrimage from death to life, from slavery to freedom; and the forces of death, the armed forces of Pharaoh, try to pursue them in order to perpetuate that captivity, going where they have no business to go, disregarding the power of Israel’s God. And we witness the truth of the chilling prophecy that Moses offered God’s people as they panicked, trapped between the army and the sea: “The Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.” Pharaoh’s army goes looking for death and finds it. In a culture of death, death is the only possible outcome.

The people of God pass through the sea in a kind of baptism, a one-way passage from death to life, from fear to hope, from the chains of Egypt to the unpredictable freedom of the pilgrim’s way. And each one of us gets to tread that way too, each one of us is invited to step forward into the sea, not armor-plated like the Egyptians, not seeking death and destruction, but unarmed and vulnerable, trusting in God to lead us from those places of death to springs of living water.

Exodus gives us the parable of the community’s journey of faith from death to life. Romans and Matthew give us tips on how to behave in that community.

When I first read Paul’s statement that the weak eat only vegetables, I felt relief that our vegan bishop isn’t visiting today. It’s ironic that Paul is telling the people of God not to judge each other but he uses pretty judgmental language himself. Why does he say that vegetarians are weak? The answer lies in the cultural context of his day. In ancient Roman cities, the vast majority of meat was sold only after being sacrificed to the pagan gods, or idols as Paul calls them. And animals were sacrificed all the time: death was all around, with pagan altars on every street corner.

Paul understood the diversity of the church. Some Christians felt secure enough in their faith to be able to eat that meat understanding that the idols were not real gods. Anyone who wasn’t quite convinced was better off avoiding meat altogether, rather than being conflicted by a fear that they were under the influence of whatever false god the meat had been sacrificed to. Paul’s point is that it really doesn’t matter what dietary laws you observe or which holidays you observe: all are to be regarded with equal honor and consideration because all are one in Christ.

To translate to our own context, some of us have given up smoking, some have cars that don’t use fossil fuels, some give away more than a tenth of their income. Some churches celebrate Communion every Sunday while others don’t. Some churches use incense, while others don’t. None of these habits entitle anyone to self-righteousness or to look down on any other member of the community, because what binds us together - the salvific act of God in Christ - is much, much more important that any lifestyle choices. That’s a foundational principle, both as we cultivate community in this parish, and in our efforts towards Christian unity.

The Gospel story, like the Epistle, could use a little contextual explanation. The parable uses some hyperbolic language to make its point. “Seventy seven” or “seven times seven” is like colloquially saying “ a million”. It just means an infinite number. Similarly, the ten thousand talents owed by the slave is an unimaginably huge amount of wealth: it’s just making the point that this was a really big debt, one that nobody could pay back, whereas 100 denarii is a relatively trivial amount.

Scandalously, several of the details in the parable have contemporary parallels in our own culture. First, the parable is about a king and his slaves. How do we seek forgiveness for the terrible national sin of slavery? How do we seek justice for the multitudes who are still enslaved today through human trafficking, knowing that San Diego is a major center of that appalling industry? And how do we seek forgiveness for our silence and inaction over decades and centuries of slavery and racial oppression? I am proud of my colleagues who have taken action to remove provocative symbols of the American Confederacy from their churches, even when that leadership threatens their personal security or that of the church.

Second, as archaic as it might seem, debtor’s prison is a reality today for our low-income neighbors. People convicted of minor offences are charged fees for public defenders, jail administration, and other aspects of the court system. When they can’t pay what often amounts to thousands of dollars, they are jailed, which means they can’t earn the money to pay the debt, and a vicious cycle ensues. It didn’t make sense in Jesus’ time and it doesn’t make sense now. My brother dean in Seattle tells me that his cathedral offers loans for bail and court fees, and they are always paid back. What if we set up a bail fund - or a security deposit fund - here in San Diego? Could we demonstrate a better way to care for our neighbors caught unjustly in the justice system or sleeping in the streets? Could we offer our oppressed brothers and sisters a path to freedom and newness of life? Perhaps that would feel to them like God pushing back the Red Sea.

In the parable, the king initially demonstrates amazing generosity to his servant. The king doesn’t draw up a repayment schedule; he forgives the entire debt. He wipes the slate clean. That’s not usually how we approach forgiveness. If I forgive you, I expect something from you: an apology, a reparation, a promise to change your ways. But here’s the catch: if I withhold forgiveness until you act, I am being held captive by you, because I have no power to affect your behavior. The only way to be truly free is to offer unconditional forgiveness. And what’s more, when we experience mercy, the parable tells us quite bluntly that we should pay it forward, if we want to live into the abundance of God’s mercy.

Forgiveness brings hard questions. Do I have to forgive the abusive spouse or parent who has left me with lasting scars, physical or emotional? Do I have to forgive the bully or narcissist who inflicted pain on me or someone I love, who continues the bad behavior, and who shows no remorse? We must distinguish between forgiveness and permitting a destructive behavior to continue doing damage to the individual or the community. Forgiveness should be a liberation, not a continuing captivity. And forgiveness may lead to pursuing justice, so that the perpetrator is prevented from injuring others.

What’s an appropriate amount of forgiveness? We live in a transactional society with simplistic rules. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Fairness is important. You should pay your debts. If you don’t pay your debts there should be consequences. We are astonished when someone extends forgiveness beyond what we think is reasonable. We want to parse it out: this much forgiveness for that much repentance. That’s the core of Peter’s question to Jesus. How much must I forgive? It suggests a deep need for a transactional approach, and I think most of us can relate; I know I can. Why do we need this measurement? What hunger does it satisfy, or what fear does it assuage? Is it because, if we can figure out how forgiveness is meted out, we imagine that we can do just enough of what is right to earn the necessary amount for salvation?

Is that how we want to live, constantly keeping score, meting out morsels of forgiveness to earn spiritual credit? Or do we want true freedom, born of the certainty that God’s love knows no limits and isn’t for sale?

Today we celebrate homecoming. It’s a day to rededicate ourselves to this community, to renew relationships, to remember who we are and whose we are. Today we have the opportunity to make new commitments, to give of ourselves in ministry. After this service we are offering a special meal, and I hope you will spend some extra time enjoying the food, nurturing friendships, and learning about the many ministries of the cathedral. Today is a good day to plunge into our community as the Israelites once plunged into the seabed, journeying to a life free of fear, knowing that we are in the hand of God, who is the God of life, of compassion and of infinite love.

September 17, 2017
Homecoming Sunday
The Very Rev Penelope Bridges

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: Unhooked, unbound and the journey of freedom

Proper 18A
St. Paul’s Cathedral, 8a, 10.30a
10 September 2017

Happy New Year! School has started, and families with younger children are learning new rhythms and negotiating new schedules. Our calendars may say the New Year is still months away, but our Jewish colleagues begin their observation 10 days from now. The story of Passover begins the Jewish New Year, and Christians, too, share in the invitation to cross over into a new life of freedom.

The Passover New Year comes with a special menu – an evening barbecue of lamb or goat, eaten in a hurry because everybody’s going on a long hike through the desert. They’re bound for the promised land – a land of milk and honey, where no one is hungry or afraid, and sweet justice abounds. That’s our journey, too. Early Christians often celebrated the Easter Vigil with an additional chalice, filled with milk and honey to be shared with the newly baptized. Taste and see that the Lord is good! It gives church ice cream socials new meaning…

Passover always involves setting down what isn’t life-giving, and going in search of greater freedom. The dreamers who took the risk to come out of the shadows in search of legal status are on a Passover journey. Pharaoh isn’t just the phantom of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh is legion, even the demon Jesus drives out of the sick man into a herd of pigs.[1] Pharaoh is our seemingly eternal desire to stay in bondage rather than choosing the journey toward more abundant life.

The paper I read last Sunday had a front page article about addiction.[2] A young woman told of being prescribed pain killers after a serious fall, and soon discovering that upping the dosage removed her anxieties as well. She had plenty of partners in that prison of Pharaoh’s, including equally addicted and abusive husbands, pushers and drug cartels, and recovery programs that wouldn’t stick. Several years on, she is now in recovery, and able to say, “I may have another relapse in me, but I don’t have another recovery in me.” Each day for her is a renewed decision to choose life.

The 12 step process of AA and similar programs begins with “we are powerless over X (alcohol, drugs, some kind of behavior…) and our lives have become unmanageable.” The Israelites’ troubles weren’t over once they escaped Egypt or reached the desert. They complained that Moses had brought them out into the desert to die, and swore they preferred the predictability of slavery. ‘Grumble, grumble, grumble, it’s all YOUR fault, Moses!’ Their only real decision was to go in the wrong direction and build a golden calf. ‘We can worship that – at least we can see it!’ Freedom is hard work – always! – especially when we prefer to blame someone or deny our own agency. The Israelites were still in bondage, for they brought Pharaoh with them.

The portability of Pharaoh is really what Paul is talking about when he says, don’t owe anyone anything, except to love your neighbor. He doesn’t mean burn your mortgage, though he might mean attend to your credit limits. He’s telling us to look around and see where our obligations are. Sometimes it’s finding our innate worth only in someone else’s eyes. Who or what owns you? Jesus is a bit blunter – what you bind or loose, what you obligate or set free in your life, will stick with you – it’s got eternal consequences. Got a grudge? It’s got you until you let it go. Hate somebody? Some wise soul said that’s like drinking rat poison and expecting the other person to die.

We can be obliged or bound to all sorts of things – substances, behaviors, ideas and false hopes, and people. A painful and profound new novel, My Absolute Darling,[3] unfurls the story of family bondage, patterns of abuse and abandonment that are passed on from generation to generation. The utter mutual possession of child and parent makes helicopter parenting look like child’s play. Most of us are hooked to someone or something, in ways that are often hard to recognize.

We come together here week by week to be set free, to keep choosing the long walk toward freedom. We practice the faith so we can let enticing hooks pass us by, and trust that God really is working on new life – especially in the grave of letting go. There are plenty of golden calves around to draw and bind us – including campaign promises that no longer look quite so wonderful. What kind of damage is done to our society when we punish children for their parents’ actions? It’s a form of child abuse, it’s rejecting the gift of the stranger (welcome strangers and you will meet angels[4]), but more than anything, it’s scapegoating, a chronic human response to anxiety.

The nationalistic responses we’re seeing around the world and the white supremacist underbelly in our own society share that same desire to blame somebody for our own discomfort and fear. The Hunger Games is a current example, but the search for a sacrificial victim to relieve our communal anxiety is as old as humanity and a profound part of the biblical story, from Adam and Eve and the snake each trying to blame the other, Cain and Abel, to Jesus of Nazareth and many of his disciples. Our pain and struggle over this hemisphere’s legacy of slavery and domination continue to be expressed in racism and violence. We are all bound by that history, and we will never be free until we confront it, even in fear and trembling.

Jesus offers his disciples a transformative process for confronting a person who has wronged you. If you don’t get a response, take somebody else. Take a group from the church if you’re still stuck, and if the person still doesn’t listen, treat him or her as a gentile or tax collector. Well, what does that mean? What are we supposed to do with Gentiles and tax collectors? Jesus invited them to dinner, and loved them into a new way of being.

Getting unhooked, or being unbound, takes courage and practice. A friend tells a story about a soldier who was a POW in Japan during the Second World War. Day after day, month after month, he was tortured and beaten by the same man. He survived the war, and when he was asked how he managed to forgive his torturer, he said, “I began to imagine him as a babe in his mother’s arms.” That’s unbinding.

There’s been a whole lot of unbinding in disaster country lately, as folks in Texas and Louisiana searched for neighbors and strangers to help. We saw similar responses after Katrina, but we also learned a good deal about the structural binding that kept people in toxic FEMA trailers for years, or made it impossible for some people to get reconstruction loans. We often do better in times of crisis, when we recognize suffering human beings as brothers and sisters. The threat to end DACA is gathering momentum like what Jesus charges in today’s gospel – take others with you and point out the fault, take a community from the church… Let’s get this unbound!

The journey of unbinding looks toward God’s jubilee year that frees us all. ALL God’s children are set free in that new year, and that still makes some people nervous. But the bonds of slavery that keep some down and some up will yield no freedom for anyone.

We make our hurried meal here for that journey of freedom. We have to open our hands and hearts to receive it. When you come to the table today, remember that vision of milk and honey, and receive the milk of loving-kindness and sweet justice. It is for the unbinding of each of us and the freeing of the whole world, gentiles and tax collectors included. We have a choice: rat poison or milk and honey. Choose life!

The Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori


[1] Mark 5:1-20
[2] Salt Lake City Tribune
[3] Gabriel Tallent. NY, Riverhead: 2017
[4] Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Historic pictures of St Paul's

Recently Mark Lester found some photos online from Life Magazine, entitled,   Mission Rally Dec. 12 At St. Paul'S Episcopal Church In San Diego , Calif. (Click through to see all the photos, there appear to be about 15 of them)

We think these date from the late 50s, because the photographer stopped working for Life in 1961.  The current building opened in 1951 but was described as relatively "unfurnished" at that time.

We thought you would be interested in a then-and-now comparison.  The organ was much smaller;  the altar was against the wall of the chancel;  the pulpit was  back further (on the broad step?) .  What other differences do you see?








Friday, September 8, 2017

Street Choir Benefit Concert: Homeless Serving the Homeless Through Music

Lyssa Melonakos of First Presbyterian Church shares this event with us:
The San Diego Street Choir, featured in the Union Tribune back in December, has grown a lot over the past year, both in numbers and in confidence.

The Street Choir is a choir designed for individuals experiencing homelessness. Despite the nature of street life—a constant lack of privacy, a constant nearness to other human beings, a life surrounded by urban activity—many homeless individuals experience intense isolation and marginalization from the community around them. Enough time on the street can convince anyone that their voice will not be heard. And yet, the Street Choir helps people truly get their voice back, and welcomes them into a genuine, supportive community. Many of them have been surprised by how impactful it has been to sing in the choir, to lift their voices among friends without fear. As one of the soloists explained, “I had no idea how powerful it is to sing in choir. God gave me a voice, and he wants me to use it.”

The Street Choir is now preparing for their biggest gig yet. On Friday, September 22nd, they will be showcasing their talents at the BlesSING Benefit Concert, at First Presbyterian Church at 7pm. Admission is free, but all proceeds collected during the freewill offertory will be donated to music and arts education at the Monarch School for kids impacted by homelessness. Please join us! You’ll be blown away by the passion of this unique choir.

This is a concert you won’t want to miss. For more details, check out the online invitation or the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Update on the Cathedral Campus Redevelopment Project

What’s going on with the Olive Street parcel project?

The managers of the Nutmeg & Olive LLC expect to see a draft text of the sixth amendment to the Purchase & Sale Agreement between the LLC and Greystar this week. Progress on this version of the agreement has been slower than expected, partially due to the Summer vacation schedules of key players in revising the agreement. Our consultant, Tom Delaney, has reported weekly to the LLC throughout this period. He, along with our attorney, Bob Frances, are doing the heavy lifting in ensuring that the eventual Purchase & Sale Agreement will benefit us.

The structure, as currently proposed, will consist of twenty stories of various-sized apartments, with program and office space owned by the Cathedral on the first and second floors. Greystar plans to build the requisite affordable housing unit on site rather than contributing to the city’s affordable housing fund. We are pleased with the decision to build the affordable units on site.

As those of you who went to meetings with the LLC to urge local planning groups, including the San Diego City Council, to approve our development plans will remember, the height of our proposed development was among the key concerns voiced at that time. Greystar believes that the development climate has changed in the past six years, and that the city is now keen on in-fill and higher density construction. This is especially true when affordable housing will be an integral part of a proposed development. Therefore, they believe the city will approve their new proposal for increased height, square footage and density. Greystar hopes to move forward with a submittal of the current plans to the city on September 15, 2017, assuming that the LLC is in agreement with the details, including design, that are subject to their approval.

The most significant result this Summer of the negotiation process has been the agreement that the land sale price will be increased on a pro rata basis per additional square foot approved above the current total square footage for which we hold an entitlement. This will allow us to recoup a price concession we made when the developer was seeking financing and a much smaller structure was envisioned.

Because of the developer’s need to go back to the city for approval of a project significantly larger than the one for which we obtained entitlements in 2011, the project timeline has been somewhat extended. We now anticipate that construction will begin during the second half of 2018.

We hope to be able to share the proposed design of this structure with the congregation during the Forum at 9:00 a.m., on Sunday, October 8th, when an update on the CCRP and the Olive St. project will be presented. I hope that you can attend this meeting, where you will have a full presentation of the project status.

As ever, thank you for your patient support of the LLC during this lengthy process; it is appreciated. If you have questions about the project at any time, please direct them to me, or one of the other LLC managers: Dean Penny Bridges, Ken Tranbarger, Jack Lentz and Kendall Squires.

Mark Lester
LLC Manager and Dean’s Warden
September 4, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sharing My Spiritual Gifts as a Eucharistic Minister

When my father’s health was deteriorating when he reached the age of 95, I realized how isolated and lonely he had become. I lived in California, Dad in Wisconsin. When he passed at age 97, struggling with “Why, God, have you not taken me yet?”, it was then I knew I had to serve the shut-ins. His struggle helped me understand how desperately the elderly and hospitalized need to feel a Spiritual connection, especially at this time.

The training provided for Eucharistic Ministers helped me feel confident in serving those in need. We learned about the needs of the bed-ridden, both physical and emotional, and the process of serving the Eucharist in various circumstances.

When I visit these wonderful people, I feel I am filling a tremendous void for them, and allowing them to reconnect with what they may feel they had lost at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Their physical needs may be met, however so often their spiritual and emotional well-being is set aside, while nurses, doctors, and family, honorably attempt to improve their health or mobility.

I have been serving Eucharist to those home-bound for several years, and often jump at the opportunity to do this more than the once-a-month schedule. My dear husband, Doug, often volunteers to accompany me, so we can “run” as the need arises. The joy and blessing I receive surely must be more than what the recipient receives. Knowing how much our presence and reconnection with St. Paul’s is so important to each person we visit, is evident on their faces, which may be the only way of expressing their gratitude.

God surprises me almost every visit, such as when I was visiting Rita and Dorothy at their nursing homes. Rita, although blind and bedridden, found no obstacle too great for her to express her love for the Cathedral, and joy in having me serve Eucharist. I discovered through Rev. Dorothy Curry, that they loved music, and that Rita was a long-standing choir member. I made sure to bring my music and play songs that may have familiarity. Rita loved classical music, and could even remember the names of various compositions, so I included Bach and Mozart. They both loved being able to recite The Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23.

A special bond is created with those we serve. I am blessed to provide that Spiritual Presence, as a vessel from God. It's the slow paced quiet, reverent time for both recipient and provider to share their love in Christ.

You may want to consider becoming a Eucharistic Minister. Or, you may know of someone who would love to have a Cathedral Visitor or Eucharistic Minister enter their life. In either case, please contact Brooks Mason at masonb@stpaulcathedral.org or Vicki Hoppenrath vl_hoppe@hotmail.com.

by Faith DeHart

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Sunday Sermon: A Journey into Grace

Matthew​ ​16:21-28 

Have​ ​you​ ​ever​ ​noticed​ ​that​ ​in​ ​the​ ​movies,​ ​the​ ​hero​ ​always​ ​gets​ ​begged​ ​not​ ​to​ ​go​ ​and​ ​save everybody?

“No,​ ​its​ ​too​ ​dangerous​ ​Superman--​ ​they’ve​ ​got​ ​Kryptonite.”

“No,​ ​Captain​ ​Kirk​ ​-​ ​Jim,​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​do​ ​it,​ ​they’ll​ ​kill​ ​you.”

“James​ ​(as​ ​in​ ​James​ ​Bond),​ ​please​ ​don’t​ ​do​ ​go,​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​stand​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​you.”

And​ ​then​ ​usually​ ​the​ ​hero​ ​leaves​ ​anyway,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​performs​ ​some​ ​heroic​ ​act.​ ​​ ​Sometimes​ ​the hero​ ​may​ ​get​ ​compromised​ ​for​ ​a​ ​while,​ ​like​ ​Superman​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Kryptonite,​ ​but​ ​they​ ​escape. They​ ​get​ ​themselves​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​jam​ ​and​ ​save​ ​the​ ​world​ ​in​ ​the​ ​process.​ ​​ ​Or​ ​maybe​ ​save​ ​the​ ​whole galaxy​ ​if​ ​its​ ​Captain​ ​Kirk.

And​ ​I’m​ ​glad.​ ​​ ​So​ ​are​ ​the​ ​Lois​ ​Lanes,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Dr​ ​McCoys,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​many​ ​objectified​ ​women​ ​that James​ ​Bond​ ​has​ ​taken​ ​advantage​ ​of,​ ​I​ ​mean​ ​saved.

Because​ ​they​ ​are​ ​safe​ ​now.​ ​​ ​They​ ​can​ ​rest,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​can​ ​rest.​ ​​ ​The​ ​world​ ​is​ ​a​ ​better​ ​place​ ​because the​ ​hero​ ​has​ ​solved​ ​the​ ​world’s​ ​problems.

Maybe​ ​I’m​ ​weird,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​what​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​mind​ ​for​ ​me​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Gospel​ ​this​ ​morning.

Peter,​ ​learning​ ​that​ ​Jesus​ ​intends​ ​to​ ​put​ ​himself​ ​in​ ​harm's​ ​way​ ​to​ ​save​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​acts​ ​just​ ​like​ ​Dr. McCoy,​ ​or​ ​Lois​ ​Lane.​ ​​ ​“You​ ​can’t​ ​do​ ​it,​ ​Jesus.​ ​I​ ​won’t​ ​let​ ​you.​ ​​ ​I’m​ ​going​ ​to​ ​do​ ​everything​ ​I​ ​can to​ ​keep​ ​you​ ​here,​ ​safe!” But​ ​how​ ​can​ ​you​ ​blame​ ​him,​ ​really?​ ​​ ​We​ ​wouldn’t​ ​have​ ​the​ ​story​ ​of​ ​Superman​ ​or​ ​Star​ ​Trek without​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of​ ​Lois​ ​Lane​ ​for​ ​Superman​ ​or​ ​Dr.​ ​McCoy​ ​for​ ​his​ ​friend,​ ​Jim,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​wouldn’t have​ ​the​ ​passion​ ​of​ ​Christ​ ​without​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of​ ​Peter​ ​for​ ​his​ ​beloved​ ​Jesus​ ​and​ ​his​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​what​ ​he now​ ​knows​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​loss.​ ​​ ​If​ ​Peter​ ​just​ ​sat​ ​back​ ​and​ ​said,​ ​"oh,​ ​ok,​ ​so​ ​you're​ ​going​ ​to​ ​die,​ ​that's cool"​ ​we​ ​wouldn't​ ​think​ ​very​ ​much​ ​of​ ​Peter,​ ​would​ ​we?

The​ ​church​ ​has​ ​inherited​ ​Peter’s​ ​resistance​ ​to​ ​change​ ​and​ ​loss,​ ​through​ ​the​ ​ages.​ ​​ ​We​ ​go​ ​in centuries-long​ ​cycles,​ ​remembering​ ​who​ ​Jesus​ ​really​ ​is​ ​and​ ​forgetting​ ​in​ ​favor​ ​of​ ​staying​ ​safe inside​ ​a​ ​building,​ ​or​ ​preserving​ ​the​ ​Church​ ​as​ ​if​ ​it​ ​is​ ​ours​ ​and​ ​not​ ​Christ’s.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​just​ ​like​ ​Peter. We​ ​forget​ ​that​ ​the​ ​mission​ ​of​ ​the​ ​church​ ​is​ ​not​ ​to​ ​be​ ​comfortable​ ​or​ ​a​ ​made-to-order​ ​spiritual experience​ ​like​ ​a​ ​“Have​ ​it​ ​your​ ​way”​ ​Burger​ ​King​ ​cheeseburger​ ​but​ ​to​ ​be​ ​out​ ​there​ ​and vulnerable.​ ​​ ​But​ ​if​ ​we​ ​didn't​ ​forget,​ ​we​ ​wouldn't​ ​be​ ​very​ ​human,​ ​would​ ​we?​ ​​ ​The​ ​collect​ ​for​ ​the day​ ​takes​ ​this​ ​pattern​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Church​ ​into​ ​account​ ​by​ ​asking​ ​God​ ​for​ ​the​ ​increase​ ​of​ ​"true religion".

The​ ​architects​ ​of​ ​my​ ​seminary​ ​chapel​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​address​ ​this​ ​problem​ ​in​ ​part​ ​by​ ​placing​ ​the​ ​cross outside​ ​the​ ​building.​ ​​ ​At​ ​the​ ​front​ ​of​ ​the​ ​nave,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​windows,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​cross​ ​is​ ​placed​ ​outside the​ ​building​ ​beyond​ ​the​ ​glass​ ​to​ ​continually​ ​remind​ ​us​ ​that​ ​the​ ​mission​ ​of​ ​the​ ​church​ ​lies​ ​outside the​ ​walls​ ​of​ ​the​ ​building;​ ​that​ ​the​ ​purpose​ ​of​ ​worship​ ​is​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​us​ ​to​ ​go​ ​back​ ​out​ ​into​ ​the​ ​world and​ ​do​ ​the​ ​work​ ​we​ ​are​ ​called​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​​ ​Remember,​ ​we​ ​do​ ​not​ ​have​ ​a​ ​recession​ ​in​ ​the​ ​liturgy,​ ​but we​ ​process​ ​back​ ​out​ ​into​ ​the​ ​world​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​service​ ​to​ ​do​ ​the​ ​work​ ​we​ ​are​ ​called​ ​to​ ​do. The​ ​Church​ ​is​ ​never​ ​in​ ​recess​ ​so​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​recession.​ ​​ ​On​ ​the​ ​side​ ​of​ ​the​ ​seminary​ ​chapel​ ​is​ ​a wall​ ​of​ ​windows​ ​overlooking​ ​downtown​ ​Austin,​ ​again​ ​intending​ ​to​ ​draw​ ​us​ ​into​ ​the​ ​city,​ ​where the​ ​cross​ ​of​ ​discipleship​ ​pulls​ ​us.​ ​​ ​I​ ​have​ ​thought​ ​about​ ​that​ ​architecture​ ​often​ ​as​ ​we​ ​live​ ​here into​ ​our​ ​mission​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Cathedral​ ​for​ ​the​ ​City,​ ​with​ ​all​ ​of​ ​our​ ​wonderful​ ​outreach​ ​into​ ​the​ ​park and​ ​beyond.

But​ ​Peter​ ​is​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​preserve​ ​a​ ​different​ ​religion,​ ​in​ ​keeping​ ​Jesus’​ ​body​ ​intact.​ ​​ ​Peter​ ​still doesn’t​ ​understand​ ​all​ ​that​ ​Jesus​ ​has​ ​taught-​ ​which​ ​has​ ​been​ ​primarily​ ​as​ ​a​ ​living​ ​example​ ​of healing​ ​the​ ​sick,​ ​and​ ​feeding​ ​the​ ​poor,​ ​and​ ​living​ ​on​ ​the​ ​street​ ​with​ ​those​ ​who​ ​have​ ​nowhere​ ​else to​ ​go,​ ​by​ ​building​ ​relationships​ ​with​ ​all​ ​different​ ​kinds​ ​and​ ​sorts​ ​of​ ​people--​ ​and​ ​only​ ​rarely​ ​by speaking​ ​in​ ​synagogues​ ​as​ ​the​ ​scribes​ ​or​ ​professors​ ​do.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​his​ ​relationship​ ​building​ ​has​ ​lead up​ ​to​ ​this​ ​ultimate​ ​moment​ ​of​ ​sacrifice.

Because​ ​the​ ​giving​ ​of​ ​Jesus’​ ​life​ ​only​ ​makes​ ​sense​ ​as​ ​a​ ​saving​ ​action​ ​if​ ​Jesus​ ​is​ ​who​ ​he​ ​says​ ​he is:​ ​the​ ​Son​ ​of​ ​God,​ ​the​ ​Messiah:​ ​the​ ​Christ.​ ​​ ​If​ ​he​ ​is​ ​not,​ ​then​ ​his​ ​death​ ​is​ ​just​ ​senseless​ ​violence.

But​ ​even​ ​though​ ​Peter​ ​has​ ​said​ ​he​ ​believes​ ​Jesus​ ​is​ ​the​ ​Son​ ​of​ ​God,​ ​he​ ​hasn’t​ ​put​ ​the​ ​pieces together​ ​yet:​ ​​ ​he​ ​is​ ​waiting​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Superman​ ​that​ ​will​ ​put​ ​down​ ​the​ ​Roman​ ​Empire​ ​and​ ​free​ ​the nation​ ​of​ ​Israel​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Emperor.​ ​​ ​He​ ​can’t​ ​see​ ​how​ ​Jesus’​ ​death​ ​saves​ ​anything.

And​ ​how​ ​much​ ​more​ ​confusing​ ​that​ ​Jesus​ ​goes​ ​one​ ​step​ ​further​ ​and​ ​says​ ​that​ ​not​ ​only​ ​will​ ​he die,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​that​ ​his​ ​followers​ ​have​ ​to​ ​take​ ​up​ ​the​ ​cross,​ ​too!​ ​​ ​How​ ​shocking​ ​that​ ​Jesus​ ​tells​ ​his followers--​ ​the​ ​disciples​ ​then​ ​and​ ​us​ ​now--​ ​that​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​him​ ​will​ ​mean​ ​taking​ ​up​ ​the​ ​cross,​ ​a Roman​ ​imperial​ ​death​ ​sentence.​ ​​ ​That’s​ ​a​ ​hard​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​hear.

The​ ​piece​ ​that​ ​Peter​ ​didn’t​ ​get​ ​is​ ​the​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​neither​ ​Superman,​ ​nor​ ​Captain​ ​Kirk,​ ​nor​ ​any​ ​other movie​ ​hero​ ​can​ ​offer.​ ​​ ​There​ ​is​ ​resurrection​ ​after​ ​the​ ​cross.​ ​​ ​Jesus​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​save​ ​the​ ​whole world,​ ​and​ ​he​ ​invites​ ​his​ ​followers​ ​to​ ​enter​ ​that​ ​journey.​ ​​ ​A​ ​journey​ ​into​ ​vulnerability,​ ​not triumph,​ ​not​ ​status,​ ​power,​ ​or​ ​control.​ ​​ ​A​ ​journey​ ​of​ ​letting​ ​go,​ ​not​ ​of​ ​holding​ ​on.​ ​​ ​A​ ​journey​ ​of entering​ ​into​ ​the​ ​fragility​ ​of​ ​humanity,​ ​not​ ​of​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​manage​ ​it.​ ​A​ ​journey​ ​of​ ​not​ ​being​ ​afraid to​ ​trust​ ​in​ ​a​ ​power​ ​greater​ ​than​ ​our​ ​own​ ​ego.​ ​​ ​Can​ ​you​ ​imagine​ ​a​ ​church​ ​whose​ ​committees​ ​ran on​ ​such​ ​a​ ​structure?​ ​Or​ ​a​ ​world​ ​where​ ​being​ ​with​ ​each​ ​other​ ​and​ ​learning​ ​about​ ​each​ ​other​ ​was the​ ​way​ ​forward​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​political​ ​maneuvering,​ ​power,​ ​and​ ​war?

This​ ​isn’t​ ​a​ ​Superman​ ​movie​ ​where​ ​Lois​ ​gets​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​home​ ​and​ ​get​ ​some​ ​very​ ​cheap​ ​grace​ ​while Superman​ ​does​ ​all​ ​the​ ​work.​ ​​ ​This​ ​is​ ​real,​ ​incarnational​ ​grace.​ ​​ ​This​ ​is​ ​the​ ​real,​ ​hands​ ​on,​ ​dirty and​ ​messy​ ​love​ ​of​ ​God.​ ​​ ​This​ ​is​ ​true​ ​religion.​ ​Jesus​ ​isn't​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​shame​ ​or​ ​guilt​ ​Peter.​ ​He​ ​is offering​ ​Peter​ ​an​ ​invitation​ ​to​ ​something​ ​Peter​ ​hasn't​ ​understood​ ​yet.

This​ ​incarnational​ ​grace​ ​through​ ​the​ ​cross​ ​is​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of​ ​God​ ​that​ ​Jesus​ ​lived​ ​life​ ​on​ ​the​ ​streets​ ​of Jerusalem​ ​for.​ ​​ ​That​ ​he​ ​was​ ​born​ ​into​ ​a​ ​barn​ ​for​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​a​ ​nice​ ​comfy​ ​house,​ ​so​ ​that​ ​those​ ​who are​ ​born​ ​into​ ​challenging​ ​environments​ ​can​ ​feel​ ​Jesus​ ​as​ ​they​ ​bear​ ​their​ ​cross.​ ​​ ​Jesus​ ​ate​ ​with​ ​the poor,​ ​so​ ​that​ ​the​ ​unsheltered​ ​in​ ​Balboa​ ​park​ ​can​ ​know​ ​that​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​saving​ ​God​ ​with​ ​them​ ​as they​ ​bear​ ​their​ ​cross.​ ​​ ​This​ ​Christ​ ​lived​ ​with​ ​those​ ​that​ ​are​ ​sick​ ​and​ ​healed​ ​them​ ​so​ ​that​ ​people today​ ​can​ ​know​ ​that​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​God​ ​who​ ​walks​ ​with​ ​them​ ​as​ ​they​ ​bear​ ​their​ ​cross​ ​of​ ​pain​ ​and illness.

And​ ​Jesus​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​humility​ ​so​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​be​ ​reminded​ ​to​ ​work​ ​our​ ​ego​ ​and​ ​pride​ ​and​ ​trust​ ​that we​ ​in​ ​fact​ ​are​ ​not​ ​the​ ​ultimate​ ​authority.​ ​But​ ​letting​ ​go​ ​of​ ​that​ ​ego​ ​opens​ ​up​ ​a​ ​new​ ​possibility:​ ​a worth​ ​based​ ​not​ ​in​ ​how​ ​right​ ​you​ ​can​ ​be​ ​or​ ​how​ ​perfect​ ​you​ ​can​ ​make​ ​things​ ​but​ ​how​ ​much​ ​you are​ ​loved​ ​because​ ​of​ ​who​ ​you​ ​are,​ ​not​ ​what​ ​you​ ​do:​ ​and​ ​in​ ​that​ ​be​ ​opened​ ​to​ ​the​ ​messiness​ ​of​ ​this human​ ​life,​ ​that​ ​we​ ​might​ ​see​ ​the​ ​wondrous​ ​graces​ ​of​ ​a​ ​God​ ​that​ ​loves​ ​and​ ​interconnects​ ​all​ ​of us,​ ​even​ ​when​ ​we​ ​stumble,​ ​fall,​ ​and​ ​lose​ ​our​ ​way;​ ​a​ ​God​ ​who​ ​loves​ ​you​ ​when​ ​all​ ​the​ ​externals are​ ​stripped​ ​away​ ​and​ ​you​ ​stand​ ​naked​ ​and​ ​vulnerable.

It’s​ ​so​ ​easy​ ​to​ ​blast​ ​other​ ​traditions​ ​for​ ​prosperity​ ​gospel-​ ​especially​ ​this​ ​past​ ​week.​ ​Sometimes​ ​I wonder​ ​if​ ​we​ ​have​ ​set​ ​up​ ​our​ ​own​ ​version​ ​of​ ​the​ ​prosperity​ ​gospel​ ​that​ ​doesn’t​ ​require​ ​bearing​ ​a cross,​ ​where​ ​we​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​blessing​ ​without​ ​risk.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​to​ ​say,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​a​ ​little​ ​disappointed​ ​when​ ​I realized​ ​my​ ​preaching​ ​opportunity​ ​today​ ​was​ ​on​ ​“pick​ ​up​ ​your​ ​cross​ ​and​ ​carry​ ​me.”​ ​​ ​I'd​ ​much rather​ ​preach​ ​on​ ​God​ ​loves​ ​you,​ ​or​ ​we​ ​welcome​ ​all,​ ​or​ ​turning​ ​water​ ​into​ ​wine.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​blessing in​ ​our​ ​tradition,​ ​but​ ​what​ ​I​ ​realized​ ​in​ ​preparing​ ​for​ ​today​ ​is​ ​that​ ​if​ ​we​ ​are​ ​not​ ​careful,​ ​we​ ​end​ ​up with​ ​cheap​ ​grace-​ ​with​ ​blessing​ ​like​ ​Lois​ ​Lane​ ​waiting​ ​for​ ​Superman​ ​to​ ​save​ ​the​ ​world​ ​while​ ​we wait​ ​doing​ ​nothing.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​certainly​ ​not​ ​doing​ ​nothing​ ​at​ ​St​ ​Paul's!​ ​But​ ​if​ ​the​ ​fundamentalist traditions​ ​risk​ ​overemphasizing​ ​legalistic​ ​behavior​ ​changes,​ ​I​ ​wonder​ ​if​ ​the​ ​mainline​ ​traditions can​ ​fall​ ​into​ ​a​ ​pattern​ ​of​ ​inviting​ ​into​ ​blessing​ ​and​ ​hospitality​ ​without​ ​talking​ ​about transformation;​ ​bearing​ ​our​ ​crosses​ ​in​ ​shared​ ​discipleship​ ​both​ ​in​ ​our​ ​inner​ ​landscapes​ ​and​ ​our outward​ ​journey​ ​of​ ​reconciliation.

It​ ​may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​fun,​ ​it​ ​may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​popular,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​discipleship​ ​is​ ​an​ ​important​ ​part​ ​of​ ​faith. And​ ​it’s​ ​tricky,​ ​because​ ​it​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​same​ ​as​ ​working​ ​to​ ​earn​ ​God’s​ ​love,​ ​or​ ​any​ ​other​ ​perversion of​ ​grace.​ ​And​ ​I'm​ ​afraid​ ​without​ ​that​ ​regular​ ​and​ ​ongoing​ ​transformation-​ ​which​ ​can​ ​be​ ​quite painful,​ ​the​ ​church​ ​is​ ​just​ ​a​ ​club. I​ ​will​ ​never​ ​forget​ ​when​ ​I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​seminary,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​in​ ​a​ ​small​ ​group​ ​where​ ​we​ ​were​ ​beginning​ ​the process​ ​of​ ​our​ ​formation​ ​as​ ​priests.​ ​​ ​A​ ​colleague​ ​who​ ​became​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​friends​ ​said​ ​this:​ ​“I know​ ​that​ ​being​ ​here​ ​at​ ​seminary,​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​me​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​have​ ​to​ ​die.​ ​​ ​But​ ​that​ ​is​ ​so​ ​that​ ​another part​ ​of​ ​me​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​be​ ​born.”​ ​​ ​I​ ​have​ ​always​ ​appreciated​ ​her​ ​courage​ ​in​ ​being prepared​ ​to​ ​sacrifice​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​herself​ ​for​ ​her​ ​faith.​ ​And​ ​I​ ​have​ ​never​ ​forgotten​ ​it,​ ​because​ ​she​ ​was right,​ ​and​ ​that’s​ ​not​ ​just​ ​for​ ​priests.​ ​It’s​ ​the​ ​very​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​baptism:​ ​we​ ​plunge​ ​into​ ​the​ ​water,​ ​a part​ ​of​ ​us​ ​drowning,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​new​ ​part​ ​of​ ​us​ ​rising.​ ​​ ​That​ ​new​ ​life​ ​is​ ​beautiful.​ ​​ ​And​ ​that​ ​doesn’t mean​ ​that​ ​the​ ​old​ ​part​ ​is​ ​ugly;​ ​it​ ​is​ ​just​ ​as​ ​beautifully​ ​human​ ​as​ ​Peter’s​ ​love​ ​for​ ​Jesus​ ​in​ ​today’s story,​ ​his​ ​reluctance​ ​to​ ​let​ ​Jesus​ ​die​ ​because​ ​he​ ​can't​ ​touch​ ​or​ ​see​ ​the​ ​new​ ​risen​ ​life.​ ​​ ​That​ ​death and​ ​rebirth,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​the​ ​continual​ ​courage​ ​to​ ​face​ ​the​ ​new​ ​life​ ​ahead,​ ​that​ ​transformation,​ ​is not​ ​a​ ​one-time​ ​thing--​ ​it​ ​is​ ​our​ ​joy,​ ​our​ ​opportunity,​ ​to​ ​be​ ​open​ ​to​ ​and​ ​receive​ ​as​ ​a​ ​gift​ ​over​ ​and over​ ​and​ ​over​ ​again​ ​as​ ​we​ ​live​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​in​ ​faith.

Because​ ​losing​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​end.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​only​ ​the​ ​beginning.​ ​​ ​And​ ​that,​ ​my​ ​dear​ ​brothers​ ​and sisters,​ ​is​ ​grace.

The​ ​Rev.​ ​Jeff​ ​Martinhauk 
Proper​ ​17A,​ ​September​ ​3,​ ​2017 
St.​ ​Paul’s​ ​Cathedral,​ ​San​ ​Diego 

Sources​ ​Consulted:
Feasting​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Word,​ ​Year​ ​A,​ ​Vol.​ ​4.​​ ​Ed.​ ​David​ ​L.​ ​Bartlett​ ​and​ ​Barbara​ ​Brown​ ​Taylor. Louisville,​ ​Kentucky:​ ​John​ ​Knox​ ​Press,​ ​2010.